Thursday, March 22, 2018

Information Wars

This is the age of the Information War, where all kinds of interests are trying to shape the universe of information that you live in.

My advice is -- if an issue really matters to you, then try to get to primary sources with as few layers of reporting between you and the source as possible.   If the issue doesn't matter to you, then be aware that the information you have is likely inaccurate, incomplete, and probably reflects somebody else's prejudices.

A very topical example is the difference between what Paul Krugman actually said in this speech in India and how it was reported in various India media with varying degrees of emphasis and accuracy. I'm not going to link to the reports, look them up for yourself!

Other examples are e.g., the hype about Stephen Hawking's last publication. See Not Even Wrong for a summary.   A really old example is from more than a decade ago, when Indian newspapers had screaming headlines "PM Vajpayee changes India's nuclear doctrine" (India had and has a no first-use doctrine.)   What PM Vajpayee said in a speech (in Hindi, rough translation) - "Does Pakistan imagine that India will remain sleeping while it (Pakistan) prepares a first strike?"  That this translates into a policy of a preemptive first strike takes a huge flight of imagination.