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This is a very important thing you've written on. Close to normative influence, one other thing I've noticed is how the internet boxes us into groups: one group of people are feeding on a particular information and another group is feeding on another piece of information, turning them into opposing parties.

What's worse is that, those people think that the thoughts that their ideas and worldviews are premised upon is originally theirs and that it's the fact, while the opposing group is feeding off some false information or conspiracy.

So it's not only killing individuality and creativity, it's partitioning people into ideological boxes.

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At an antique store I found this old book for a low price (I'm a sucker for things like that). It's called The Family Encyclopedia, and it's from 1860. All about how to choose a cow to buy, how a steam engine works, diseases and home-based treatments, it's amazing. If anyone had an agenda writing it, wanted me to believe something, it's long long gone.

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Reading your comment made me quite happy

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May 11, 2022Liked by Gurwinder

The Pareto principle also grants a select few newspapers and tabloids monopoly over "thoroughly researched, unbiased journalism", like NYT, WaPo, BBC, et al. Essentially, the public is primed to confer the abstract "badge of neutrality & reliability" to these outlets and often do not question their narratives so long as they do not transgress the borders that they've ironically set for themselves, in a sort of feedback loop effect. This is seen in the coverage of American foreign policy in western media. They attempt to train the public to think that their intervention in, say, Libya, was motivated by humanitarian factors. They wouldn't directly justify every single airstrike or op, but would instead communicate it through the premise that "Muammar Gaddafi is a tinpot dictator, and it would be all rainbows and puppy dogs as soon as he's removed", by focusing their rhetoric on his brutality. But "Libya" has long since fallen off the "trending" train, and now the public is far less invested in its post-Gaddafi humanitarian record, which is arguably worse.

And today, we see that in western coverage of Ukraine. Not that Russian state media is truthful by any means, mind you, but is the US directly involved in the war? For months now, they've been on wartime propaganda as if it was their second nature, peddling flimsy myths about the Ghost of Kiev, for example. There is evidently a lot of buyer's remorse vis-a-vis "humanitarian interventions" in the Middle East, but again, the purchase has already been settled. No one pushed back against these trends when they were still, well, trendy, which is a far more uphill task. You need to be able to speak reason at the face of overwhelming emotion. Any counter narrative demanding that the US present conclusive evidence of WMDs in Iraq was dismissed as Ba'athist propaganda, and now its widely accepted that no such arsenal existed. Today, the public unconditionally supports channelling support to Ukraine without rationally examining the consequences of such. A bad situation could get worse, even if the attempts to change were themselves driven by noble motivations. They want the entire world to unanimously condemn Russia, but perhaps Putin will get far more erratic if all allies barring China ditch him and he's no longer left with anything to lose?

These notions might rake credibility after this is all over, but as things stand today, they're dismissed as Russian propaganda, conspiracy theories, etc. Well, I have a meta-conspiracy theory, which is that the establishment of any society needs to control the narrative. Sounds trivial, even pedestrian, right?

My assessment is that this must inevitably also include narratives on the margin, i.e. conspiracy theories. So "approved" conspiracy theories are those that are verifiably false and do not do much harm (like the UFO sightings, for example) whereas conspiracy theories which do significant harm are not allowed, like political speculations surrounding Hunter Biden's multimillion dollar deals with Chinese execs, the aforementioned "humanitarian" interventions, Wuhan lab leak, and so on.

Sadly, like with all things about the digital culture, we keep falling into this trap. Every. Damn. Time.

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May 11, 2022·edited May 11, 2022Author

An interesting comment as always, Akash. Your point reminds me of Chomsky's idea of "manufacturing consent", which seems pertinent now.

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Exactly what I've been thinking myself (ironically), but much more eloquently and succinctly put!

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May 17, 2022Liked by Gurwinder

Accurate.Weekly dose of Gurwinder's truth pill and thought pieces.

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Wherever possible, trust an honest human’s choice over an algorithm.

Wonderful article, Gurwinder.

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Great piece, important insights.

I featured it in the intro of this, FYI:

https://www.libertyrpf.com/p/279-mark-leonards-1bn-thermal-oil

Cheers 💚 🥃

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This has been very apparent on Instagram where you see countless feed of people playing into the same trend to the point it becomes nauseating to watch them

I believe Pareto Principle is coded into the universe so 80-20 ratio will always remain, but one must strive to be in the 20% in as many areas as one can after being aware of it

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Yes, both Instagram and TikTok are becoming filled with facsimiles of facsimiles; a worrying trend.

It's important not to confuse the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule) with the Pareto distribution. The former is a general (but not universal) trend found in nature. The latter is a power law probability distribution that doesn't always follow the Pareto principle.

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May 11, 2022Liked by Gurwinder

Well, I would add that blocking advertising is also a step in the right direction. On Facebook I *delete* any suggested memory Facebooks proposes that I show again. I work very hard to prevent social media from recommending topics. It really offends me.

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