The crisis of gullibility

Follow the dogwhistles

I feel like I’ve been railing against nonsense for my entire life. I got into the skepticism side of everything starting with my opposition to creationism — there I was, diligently studying developmental and evolutionary biology, and I started encountering these raving loons who outright rejected all of science while claiming the earth was 6,000 years old and that all life was magically created in a short week. It was offensive. It was absurd. Yet those kooks continue to thrive.

Since then, the bullshit has continued to pile up. We have flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, sovereign citizens, crypto fanatics, and satanic panics, all patently bogus, and they have led to a world of transphobia, homophobia, insurrections, armed militias, anti-education sentiment, and a Supreme Court and Congress packed with some of the dumbest idjits ever to grace this country. People hold the incredible as credible. The media take the silly seriously.

What is going on? It’s an epidemic of idiocy.

I admit that I live in a bubble of sanity, but people outside that bubble aren’t stupid. They’ve been misled and misinformed, their fears have been stoked, but the people wearing MAGA hats and attending anti-vax rallies are also a minority. Perhaps a growing minority, but still…they shouldn’t have as much influence as they do. In a sensible world, they ought to be laughed at.

I’m going to blame social media. I saw it on Facebook, with old friends getting sucked down into a vortex of insanity, people self-reinforcing each other over the latest extreme conspiracy theory, which would be actively promoted by the medium. It was an environment designed for kooks; they got free license to say anything, which was fine, but then criticism of bad ideas was walled off and contained, so the circle-jerks grew unchecked. If you dared to speak up and say, “Errm, the world is round, all the evidence says so” you would be shouted down by a massive crowd of people finding confidence in their numbers. It was ugly. I finally had enough and had to leave that site, cutting off all connections and closing my account.

Now it’s Twitter. This service has the potential to be even worse than Facebook, because now it has been bought up by a billionaire with bad taste and bad ideas who is endorsing QAnon, going full anti-vax, and calling for Fauci to be imprisoned. He’s insane. He’s going to lead Twitter into full collapse as a madhouse of raging nitwits.

That also leads into another big American difficulty — the way unfettered capitalism has produced a class of overvalued morons who can buy further degradation of the system.

It’s a nightmare, and I can’t abide it. I’m eventually going to have to kill my Twitter account, in the same way I murdered my Facebook account. Right now, I’m using Twitter as a free advertising service for the blog, and that’s it. I post links to Pharyngula there, but I am as of this moment refusing to engage further on the site: no other chatter, no conversation, no discussion — if you want to talk to me (and I do want to talk with other people), we’ll all have to make the effort to find other ways to engage. I’m on Mastodon, I have YouTube, and most of all, I have Freethoughtblogs.

I don’t know what else to do. Social media is a failed experiment that has had disastrous consequences. Bring back RSS!


  1. Louis says

    I have, for similar reasons, deleted all social media accounts. I won’t even have LinkedIn. It’s not always easy, I’ve met some lovely people online over the years, and given how wedded we are to signal, site, and screen, it can be hard to keep up with people.

    But, in my hipster-esque resurrection of the antiquated, I have found that old-timey paper/voice/email correspondence, face-to-face interaction (where safe and appropriate), and simply getting out of the house and doing stuff in meatspace is vastly preferable to my previous habit of Discovering People Are Wrong On The Internet.

    Which was fun, don’t get me wrong, but I have learned what I needed (people are often wrong), taken from it what I needed (I, too, can be wrong, look shit up first. Here are my improved looking shit up skills), and have now abandoned what I don’t need (long hours trying to convince someone with zero good faith that the earth isn’t fucking flat for fuck’s sake).


  2. citizenjoe says

    It’s getting worse: Roger Stone, et al. claim that there is a “demonic portal” above the White House. You can see it and photograph it. Well, not “you” of course. But good Xians can.
    You can’t see it?
    Well, of course.

  3. raven says

    He’s going to lead Twitter into full collapse as a madhouse of raging nitwits.

    Every website without moderation has eventually been overrun by trolls and destroyed.
    We saw it with Usenet, AOL, Yahoo, the comment sections of newspapers, other websites, and Facebook.
    Twitter is next.

    …we’ll all have to make the effort to find other ways to engage. I’m on Mastodon,

    There is so far no viable alternative to Twitter.
    Twitter has incumbancy, a huge critical mass of users, and the resources to handle the large amount of server traffic.

    People who know more than me about Twitter type websites say it won’t be Mastodon. Mastodon they claim doesn’t have the resources to host large traffic volumes and is much harder than Twitter to use.


    As to whether Mastodon is in a position to replace Twitter, it may be too early to tell. But some Mastodon fans say the network isn’t meant to be an alternative at all. It’s part of a movement of decentralized social media that use a standardized protocol called Activity Pub, including photo-sharing community PixelFed.

    Mastodon is open source, crowd funded, and decentralized, all the opposite of Twitter.

  4. raven says

    At least half the sentients in the US desperately want a Twitter replacement.
    The other half are of course, on Twitter, rambling on about the Jews, the impending replacement of white people by…what, probably other white people aka their children, population control vaccines, demons, witches, scientists, Qanon, and Hunter Biden’s penis.

    So far there isn’t any viable alternative or one hasn’t appeared anyway.

    It should be easy to just copy Twitter and change the name slightly.
    Call it NotTwitter or Twitter-noEm (Twitter-noElonMusk) or TwitterNG (Next Generation).

    Twitter is useful to a wide range of people which is why it is a common website.
    Even I find it useful for following a few subjects, notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    Most news media outlets use it to announce and preview all their news stories and the same with a lot of organizations including Freethoughtblogs.

    So I will hope and wait for next generation Twitter.

    In Europe, people use Telegram a lot.
    I don’t know enough about Telegram to say if it could replace Twitter though.

  5. chrislawson says


    Any attempt to copy Twitter will be met with a firestorm of patent and copyright infringement claims. At the very least nuTwitter would have to be coded from scratch, and even then it might not be safe.

  6. rorschach says

    Louis @1,

    “I have, for similar reasons, deleted all social media accounts.”

    I still need Birdsite for the Med and Science networking, Mastodon is not ready for that yet. I rely on my Covid tweeps for the newest info and research. I could not give everything up because I need the exchange of news and info.

  7. invivoMark says

    @Rorschach, Given your many misunderstandings about COVID demonstrated a couple comment sections ago, perhaps you should reconsider your use of Twitter as your source for scientific information.

  8. says

    The American disease is well established in Australia. We,be jost lost two police officers murdered execution style by so -called sovereign citizens who were both conspiracy nuts and offspring of a Christian pastor. One of them was also exchanging emails about the problems of the education system with a far right politician from a bigoted climate change denying political party which makes your Republican nutjobs look positively benign. I never really liked Twitter and I am even less friendly towards Facebook considering some of the garbage that oozes past what passes for content moderators and of course most of the media is owned by Murdoch.

  9. drsteve says

    I hope you don’t mind if I just repost a comment I added towards the end of the SBF thread, since it’s even more appropriate here:

    Since the beginning of the summer I’ve been telling everyone I know with an interest in the sociopolitical impacts of Silicon Valley culture to check out the book System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, by Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy Weinstein, which grew out of an undergrad seminar they’ve developed and taught over the last eight or ten years or so.

    Like I was saying just yesterday to a friend who’s currently using his Stanford law degree working for Google, it makes me feel slightly better to know that future fellow Stanford alumni will have been grappling with these questions and having these discussions.

  10. rorschach says

    ah my mate, you are well and truly clueless, aren’t you? You seem to have absolutely no idea about the scale of global cooperation that occurred in the last 3 years during this pandemic on social media.

  11. invivoMark says

    No, I don’t think I’m clueless. I have a PhD from studying virology, and I get most of my information about COVID either directly from peer-reviewed literature or from scientific publishers and societies. Whatever you think social media has done, it’s lulled you into believing some very wrong things.

    You are a symptom of the “crisis of gullibility” this blog post is discussing.

  12. chrislawson says


    I can’t remember the source, but a few years back I read a quote that went something like “the problem with social media is it is written by people who don’t understand socialisation.”

  13. F.O. says

    It’s taking me a bit, but Mastodon seems nice.
    I really, really like that it’s decentralized and not for profit.

  14. rorschach says

    “Whatever you think social media has done, it’s lulled you into believing some very wrong things.”

    Oh please do elaborate, my dear PhD from studying virology. Let it all out.

  15. raven says

    Slightly OT but related since it involves another atrocity from Elon Musk and Twitter.
    Elon Musk just kicked Ukraine off of Twitter.
    No new Twitter accounts from Ukraine can be set up.
    Musk was also pro-Russian but he’s gone full Ukrainian genocide now.

    Thread @United24media
    Ukraine state-affiliated media

    Hey @elonmusk
    , it seems like it’s no longer possible to have a Ukrainian number verify a Twitter account/two-factor authentication. Ukraine is not in your list of countries, see our screenshot.

    It’s vital for us to keep showing the world what’s going on in our country.
    and @United24media
    Ukraine state-affiliated media
    Replying to

    This seems to mean that no new Ukrainian accounts can be set up. Why
    ? We REALLY hope this is a mistake. But please do confirm.

    Elon Musk just kicked the entire country of Ukraine off of Twitter.
    No new accounts from Ukraine can be set up.
    United24 is part of the Ukraine government. They are not happy.

    We always knew he was pro-Russian but this sets a new low for even Musk.

    Just when I thought I couldn’t have more contempt and dislike for Elon Musk, he surpasses himself.

  16. jacksprocket says

    When Dawkins was tolerable, he proposed the meme as a pure selfish replicator- the only criterion for the success of a replicator is its replication. This is independent of any advantage it might give to the vehicle by which it replicates- or even any disadvantage. Thus, though conspiracy etc might disadvantage the carrier of the meme- for example, by making them paranoid, and spend much of their time constructing nonsensical defences against imaginary threats- as long as the meme replicates, it is a success. So, yes, a literal epidemic of idiocy, and like the virus that makes the host sneeze and thereby spreads, the idiocy memes have found an ideal transmission method in the “social” media. The infected don’t have these ideas- the ideas have them.

  17. invivoMark says

    For starters, you’re a conspiracy theorist who believes that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a lab.

    You also think that the Omicron variants evolved from the Delta variant. That’s nowhere near as egregious a misunderstanding as believing the virus leaked from a lab, but it demonstrates the degree of ignorance you allow yourself to hold while sill insisting on jumping to conclusions that the scientific community has overwhelmingly stated are not reasonable.

  18. rorschach says

    See, this gets us nicely back to social media and Twitter. Because there, I would at this point block you as just another clueless wanker that I don’t have time to deal with. While my collegues and I collaborate to learn about Long Covid treatments, ICU management, and infection control. As we have done for the last 3 years.

  19. robro says

    raven @ #15 — So much for the maven of free speech.

    As for copying Twitter, I would agree with chrislawson @ #5. Easy to say. Difficult to do. Although Twitter is “based on” open source code, I’m sure it’s got plenty of proprietary code as well as features, design, etc. Twitter also has an army of lawyers to keep any effort like that tied up in courts for years.

    Even if someone managed to replicate Twitter, then what? You would probably end up with the same problems with trolls, bots, and fake accounts that Twitter has. And it still might not make enough money to keep the lights on…as far as I can tell, Twitter has only shown a profit a couple of years.

  20. says

    I had a Twitter account that I used sporadically. Shortly after Musk took over, I started receiving several emails a day with tweets that, the email assured me, I didn’t want to miss. At first, the selected tweets were of interest to me, but they started to get weirder and weirder. Two days ago, I was shown transphobic hate speech accounts, and that’s the day I deactivated. Musk is using Twitter to promote fascism.

  21. lotharloo says

    Social media is a failed experiment

    It’s a double-edged sword. From an American point of view, this is correct. From an Iranian point of view, it is not. Without social media and the ability to spread information, there would be no Iranian demonstrations.

  22. invivoMark says

    See, blocking actual experts and people who are genuinely informed about the science is probably why your experience on social media has led to your ignorance rather than education. (I pointed out more things you’ve gotten wrong on the other thread.)

    Unfortunately, your patients probably don’t have the option of blocking you for being clueless.

  23. raven says

    Social media is a failed experiment ,..

    It is like fishing or volleyball, social media can be good, bad, or ugly.

    Freethoughtblogs is very much social media and I wouldn’t call it a failed experiment.

    I learn a lot about a lot by spending time on Freethoughtblogs.

  24. rorschach says

    @ 20,
    “Musk is using Twitter to promote fascism.”

    Yeah, sort of indirectly, eg he tweeted a white rabbit symbol today which as I subsequently learned is a Qanon dogwhistle. Twitter can’t exist without the content that is created by its users, so maybe it’s really time to stop giving him that free content. Like I said before, it would be devastating for the science and medical community, but maybe we have to accept that at this stage.

  25. rorschach says

    “See, blocking actual experts and people who are genuinely informed about the science is probably why your experience on social media has led to your ignorance rather than education.”

    I asked you to name me these “actual experts and people who are genuinely informed”, and what they are informed about, according to you, stranger on the internet, and yet you didnt name me one person or topic. May people draw their own conclusions, anyway, I’m quite done with you mate. Boring hypersceptic is boring.

  26. says

    Dear PZ, you have long understand and have clearly described how human society is busy obeying its ignorant, emotional side of mind using purely superstitious attempts to explain things instead of using rational thought processes, critical thinking, and in-depth observation and research. That is why in our book “Omniascendence” (tm and copr 2016) we stipulate that while most of humanity is sentient (self-aware) few are sapient (aspiring to wisdom).

    We value your contributions to furthering that aspiration to sapience. Stay safe, feed your spiders and don’t get buried in a snow drift.

    And, thank you to the other commenters here who value sapience over sentience.

  27. says

    Also, I applaud @1 Louis, PZ and the others of you that, along with our organization’s members) have learned that trying to engage these rtwingnut, xtian terrorist conspiracy theory types is like trying to reason with a rattlesnake!

  28. Rich Woods says

    @raven #3:

    Mastodon … is much harder than Twitter to use.

    This may be its saving grace.

  29. invivoMark says

    I asked you to name me these “actual experts and people who are genuinely informed”, and what they are informed about

    Perhaps try the authors of literally any of the multiple articles I have posted.

    Oh, sorry, those articles are more than 140 characters, so I guess they’re too difficult for you to comprehend. Guess you better just blindly follow conspiracy theorists for the rest of forever.

  30. Dunc says

    I’m going to blame social media.

    This seems like an overly-simplistic and reductive explanation of a complex and multi-faceted problem. You should post it on Twitter!

    Without social media and the ability to spread information, there would be no Iranian demonstrations.

    Again, this seems overly simplistic. The fact that Iranian demonstrators are currently using social media to organise their protests does not mean that it would be impossible for them to do so by other means. People have been organising protests and revolutions for as long as there has been something to protest or revolt against. In spite of the best efforts of the authorities to prevent it, they always seem to manage somehow.

  31. Allison says

    The problem with eliminating “social media” is that they are also the way that minority communities have been able to find one another and make common cause. For instance, the reason transgender people have suddenly become visible is because social media of various kinds have allowed them to connect without going through official channels, since just about all “official channels” are pretty transphobic. And almost every group or activity I know of communicates through some FaceBook group or other, because making a FB group is so easy.

    They are also a way around the de-facto censorship of the mainstream media — would Black Lives Matter have taken off if the only way videos of obvious police brutality could be publicized was through the mainstream media?

    BTW, “social media” comprises a heck of a lot of platforms besides Twitter and FaceBook.

  32. birgerjohansson says

    A recurring kind of BS was that the authorities claimed too many had died of COVID.
    But an article in BMJ Open reveals the low covid death rates in Africa was an artefact, a high number of the people who died during the worst period died of covid even though only 10 per cent tested positive while alive. It is non-trivial to decide wether people died with covid or from covid.
    The data from Africa shows it is easy to underreport COVID deaths, but the idiots who spread desinformation are unable to absorb more complex arguments.
    If you are interested in the details for Africa here is a link.

  33. says

    I asked you to name me these “actual experts and people who are genuinely informed”, and what they are informed about…

    That question was already answered in the previous thread about COVID-19, and you, @rorschach, know this — which is, I suspect, why you stopped commenting there after the citations were provided.

  34. Kevin Karplus says

    You wrote “Bring back RSS!” RSS never went away. I still use it to read your blog, only occasionally clicking through to leave a comment.

  35. Akira MacKenzie says

    The problem isn’t so much the technology, its that our culture of anti-intellectualism, paranoia, and Dunning Kruger individualism (i.e. “I know better then them-thar experts who want to tell me how to live! I’m a free-man-upon-the-land and graduate of Google University!”) has created a large number of people who reject cold-hard-reality and replace it with a fantasy world of American Exceptionalism, Christian supremacy, and a cavalcade of imagined enemies to threaten it all. Give that bunch an unregulated, uncensored soap box and a means to organize, and you’ve got America 2022.

  36. says

    @35 Akira MacKenzie,
    Well Said! Yes, it isn’t the tool, it’s the imbecile that uses a precision tool (tedh) as a hammer! Too many are unwilling to learn how to use tools correctly and constructively. They know better than to RTFM (read the freaking manual)or learn from those that created the tool (tech) or spend time learning how to use the tech in an inovative, creative and positive manner. Honesty, humility and a willingness to learn are too rare today.

  37. raven says

    The data from Africa shows it is easy to underreport COVID deaths, but the idiots who spread disinformation are unable to absorb more complex arguments.

    A lot of Third World countries didn’t even bother to count Covid-19 deaths.
    A lot of Third World countries don’t even have the capability to do something like count Covid-19 pandemic deaths. Their medical and government systems aren’t funded and staffed to do that.

    We even see that in the USA.
    Some states and local regions stopped counting Covid-19 deaths long ago for political reasons mostly.

    The other basket case for statistics is Russia.
    Their statistics are unreliable at the best of times and lately, not at all.
    No one knows how many people in Russia died from the Covid-19 virus.
    The best estimates are around 800,000.

  38. nomdeplume says

    @8 Yes, I agree, and apparently, as in America, religion and guns were part of the toxic brew. I am devastated to see this American madness taking firm hold here, boosted of course by the right wing “mainstream” media (looking at you Rupert).

  39. billseymour says

    I’ve never used any social media except for reading, and sometimes commenting on, other folks’ blogs, and I think I’ve lived a happy life so far.

    But I do feel a bit out of touch.  Maybe I’ll try Mastodon to see what it’s all about.

  40. lotharloo says

    Again, this seems overly simplistic. The fact that Iranian demonstrators are currently using social media to organise their protests does not mean that it would be impossible for them to do so by other means. People have been organising protests and revolutions for as long as there has been something to protest or revolt against. In spite of the best efforts of the authorities to prevent it, they always seem to manage somehow.

    No, it’s not simplistic. Not only social media allows for coordination and organization, it also allows people to spread information that the government would very much likes to suspend. Basically, the same mechanism that allows covid misinformation to flow undisturbed in Western societies is responsible for spreading anti-government information.

    But the role of social media is even much more than that. Apps like Telegram allow for de-centralized distribution of information and they are very difficult to control and not only they spread information, they also build communities. Social media allows you to be aware of others who think like you. In this aspect, it’s very different from visiting a blog, reading a book or even watching a video where you are passively consuming information without having an idea of how many people are doing the same thing. Social media makes it easier for people to build a community, a clan, a club or a cult and so they make it easier for people to find communities where they feel a strong sense of belonging.

    Why is the above point important? It’s because one of the exceptional aspects of the current line of demonstration is the courage and lack of fear people have shown. I don’t think the same thing would have happened without social media. It’s very difficult to describe how scary it is to demonstrate against a government like Iran’s. People came to the streets because they did not feel isolated and because they knew there are a lot of people like them, not just in their city but all over the country.

  41. enkidu says

    Language is the original social media, and thankfully Musk can’t buy, or patent that. Ideas, “memes” if you like, can spread pretty quickly by word of mouth, albeit not vast distances.
    All methods of recording or remembering speech, from oral history, epic poetry to internet and Twitter, merely speed up and multiply the distribution. The proportion of fake news and lies is probably much the same, but now appears overwhelming.
    Don’t forget that the printing press was bemoaned as the end of the world, and so it was for certain authorities. Ultimately the rubbish was more or less filtered out, and the same will happen to the new forms of electronic media.

  42. Captain Kendrick says

    I worked in the newsroom of a major newspaper for 10 years before and during the rise of the Internet.
    I resigned and made a career move to IT in the late 90’s when I saw the writing on the wall and the classified ads began to shrink.
    One of my first duties was sorting the mail for all for the reports and editors. Everything came through my hands, including all of the crank mail — and boy — was there a lot of it.
    Part of my job was to open all of the letters to the editor and screen them — the folks up in the ivory tower didn’t have time for that. Basically, what I got to review was all of the bullshit that is on the Internet today. The difference of course, is that there is limited space in a newspaper editorial section, so the more thoughtful letters got published (I tried not to let my political leanings screen out letters I might not agree with), while the insane and idiotic thoughts got deep-sixed or added to my collection (there were some serial cranks who I thought could turn their ramblings into a awesome conspiracy-themed screenplay, but that dream slowly died along with my journalistic aspirations.)
    Bottom line: I was the gatekeeper — the first line of defense against insanity and idiocy.
    There are no gatekeepers on the Internet. All those cranks I used to read in the 90’s can now get read by millions without even working hard to be heard. And if someone does flag them, they scream “free speech”, as if they are entitled to be heard. At least my cranks had to make a lot of photocopies and buy postage and send their treatises to multiple papers throughout the country. The old-timey cranks had work-ethic, dammit!
    I am torn sometimes thinking about how things were, and all of our news and feedback being filtered though small and tight controls who owned the media. It’s not like the old traditional fourth estate was without it’s faults.
    But for all the good today’s technology provides, I tend to lean towards the side that looks at the Internet and social media as a net negative. I don’t know.

  43. Dean Pentcheff says

    Yes to RSS — it’s how I read this (and pretty much anything else I subscribe to). I’m reminded of how useful Usenet used to be, with well-designed newsreaders. As HTML/CSS got richer and richer, there was an irresistible escalation to web sites getting “better” and “better”. So much “better”, that the clean, constrained delivery of personally-selectable information got lost in the font and layout choices. More realistically, in the monetization choices.

  44. says

    @44 Dean Pentcheff, PZ and others interested,
    I often use the LINKS or LYNX text browsers. I was intrigued and pleased that there is still interest in RSS. I opened the rss link PZ provided in my 2018 vintage Palemoon browser and it worked. When I clicked on one of the articles it opened the Pharyngula website as a webpage. I searched for RSS readers in duckduckgo, found lots of them. Most of them are for android, apple phones and tablets. I don’t want/have any of those. However some work as an extension to most browsers. It is nice that clean concise communication can still survive in this overly commercialized bloatware world.

  45. says

    Okay, one more quick diversion to lighten the mood:
    My wife laughed when I said, “even though I have no interest in religion or theism, I am a god — a Grumpy Old Dude!”

  46. unclefrogy says


    blockquote”We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield,” – George Orwell, 1946.
    the title of Crisis of gullibility is correct at the root of all the shit is belief and the desire for belief.
    maybe it is a function of the time we are in that this crisis of gullibility happening just a guess because I am living now and have no way of really knowing how changes effected people in the past. What with the rapidity of the changes we are going through, changes in our understanding how the planet works , how our bodies work what the universe is made off The population growth and the effects of changing world economies. It is understandable I guess that people seem a little more apt to react emotionally It is what it seems to me though I too am effected by all the changes and my perception can be distorted the delusional do seem to have too much influence at the present time for me to sleep very soundly or peacefully

  47. StevoR says

    Reminder of what HJ Hornbeck noted a few days ago :

    Excerpt :

    I’m not prone to alarm, but this news has me trying to ring every alarm bell I can find. Get the fuck off Twitter, as soon as humanly possible. That may allow someone to impersonate you in one-to-twelve months, but that’s better than giving these assholes a chance to browse your private messages. .. (snip) .. So while we may have dodged a bullet there, more shots are planned and I’m not convinced future ones will miss. My advice remains the same: get the fuck off Twitter, ASAP.

    Also see :

    The disbandment (of Twitter’s Safety and Trust Council -ed) happened not long after three council members announced they were resigning, stating: “Contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline.”

    See this list of what Musk is allowing too :

    FWIW I use facebook quite a lot which works for me and has its uses & positives although its certainly got its many flaws and issues too.

  48. John Morales says

    StevoR, Hornbeck has opinions, that’s true. Some OK, some not-so-much.
    The only blogger here that has all comments disabled, so… that tells me something.

    Thing is, the claim made is true of all media platforms, so he really had no particular point there.

    (Can’t moderate if one can’t access the content!)

    FWIW I use facebook quite a lot

    I use it not at all. Exactly the same point applies there, BTW.

  49. Knabb says

    It’s easy to blame social media, and to point out all of its numerous and obvious faults – but it’s also easy to overestimate its influence. Traditional media still has a wider reach in many places, especially in the primarily anglophone world, and it better explains a lot of the described phenomena. Social media allows for the spinning up of wild ideas in echo chambers, but that’s a fairly directionless process. Yet we see a direction – lots of Fascism, lots of right wing Christianity, absurd amounts of capitalist apologia. Almost as if huge amounts of the traditional media were owned by explicitly right wing partisans and much of the rest nominal centrists with the class interests of the extremely rich.

    We focus on Musk, but don’t forget Murdoch. Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, these are not the spokesmen of social media.

  50. milesteg says

    The sooner social media dies, the better. I recall 20 years ago getting laughed at in a media studies course in college when I pointed out that “blogs” (which were at the time the new hotness) would allow anyone to say anything they wanted and have it heard by millions — and that such a thing was not actually a net positive.

    20 years later: My position has been thoroughly vindicated. Sure, there is some really great content out there, but it is drowned out by masses of deplorables that are either ill intentioned, idiots, or both.

  51. StevoR says

    @ 52. Sturgeons law applies arguably :

    @51. Knabb : Yes! Murdoch has doen somuch more tomake media turn rotten and dripping with theworst pustulent misinfo out of anyone alive. He has so very much to answer for.

    I think it should be a criminal offence to deliberately misinform and mislead the public – eg the fosil fuel funded Climate Denialist campaigns, tobacco disinfo historically ie smoking doesn’t cuasecancer, Trumpist election lies, anti-vaxxer bulldust, etc ..

  52. StevoR says

    It isn’t just social media that’s the problem -its the reichwing & Christianists getting away with massive campiagns of lying disinfo and eroding confidence in science and govt institiutions in pretty much every form of media.

  53. Owlmirror says

    I’m eventually going to have to kill my Twitter account, in the same way I murdered my Facebook account

    It’s possible you, and everyone else with a Twitter account, already knows this, but:

    What I have seen is that you should not delete your account on Twitter. Shutter it, delete all content, whatever, but don’t delete the actual account.

    Because deleted Twitter accounts can be reassigned, and it would be sad if the “pzmyers” account came back on and started posting misogyny/creationism/transphobia/homophobia/whatever.

    Popehat shuttered his account, and all that’s there now is an image that points to his Mastodon/ accounts. Those have explainers that he finally got fed up with Musk.