It’s been nice to catch up on things. For the first time in a long time, I’ve actually cleared out my podcast queue. Very rare.
The Cognitive Crucible continues to put out consistent and quality content. If you’re interested in information warfare, every episode is a must-listen.
I especially appreciate that they don’t focus exclusively on military guests – but instead reach far to speak with others in the space.
Three recent podcasts, and they all caught my attention.
The first is episode #106 with COL Mike Taylor who discusses the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC).
By the way, for everyone out there championing the need to “bring back the USIA,” isn’t the GEC supposed to fill that function?
I appreciated COL Taylor’s introductory remarks on the state of the “information problem.”
As we look at the information space today, I would say that authoritarianism poses a clear threat to the global interests of the US, democracies, and open societies. A key weapon in the authoritarian arsenal is their willingness to lie to public audiences, limit freedom of expression and independent media in their own nations while exploiting freedom of expression and independent media in open societies.
He goes on to talk about the challenge of gaining attention in the modern information environment today, and how the GEC is addressing this.
Of course, the issue of “how do you measure all this” comes up at the ~9:00 mark.
TL;DR: It’ ain’t easy.
An incredibly fascinating episode with lots to think about.
There’s a good discussion at the ~6:00 point that addresses the unreliability of polling data as it relates to assessments. Polling will tell you more about the person taking the poll than the “effectiveness” of the media it is measuring.
And on our current conundrum:
“How many of us have a relative that we don’t talk to anymore because of politics?”
Well, how do we combat this?
There’s an argument made for labeling news sources, using the media bias chart like the one from ad fontes.
My initial reaction to that is “no way, it’s not going to work… people don’t care what you label it, they like what they like.”
But then, they discussed the way food labeling (putting nutrition information on everything) started slowly with a lot of push-back, but over time, has gained widespread acceptance.
And then they discuss cigarettes and the way they are rapidly falling out of favor when they were once ubiquitous.
Things can change. But it takes courage and time.
One of the things the host (John Bicknell) has been doing as he closes out each episode is asking the guest for a research question. What’s something that isn’t well understood that ought to be further investigated.
I love this.
Vanessa gives a good answer here:
How to get people out of conspiracy theory rabbit holes?
Yeah – that one is tough.
But she offers an interesting starting point, that it might be somewhere nestled between addiction psychology and cult psychology. That sounds about right.
Two things struck me that I loved.
First, your number one fan should be yourself.
She was working hard, saying yes to others, and when COVID came along and slowed the work down, she had an opportunity to create something new, for herself.
It’s very easy to find yourself locked into trying to figure out what other people want, and creating content for this other person.
But I’ve heard it before, that when you write (or make videos, songs, poetry, podcasts – whatever), you should be creating the content that you would want. There are other “yous” out there, and they’ll find it.
Finally, Jocelyn points out the fact that every day we read about the same advice that leads to a healthy life. We see it everywhere:
Take walks, breathe, get into nature, prepare for a good night’s sleep, and hyrdate. It’s the same basic principles. The better answer is, how can you design your behavior and your environment to be conducive to that.
Right. We know what to do. It’s executing that’s difficult. That’s the hard part.
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