Lex Fridman and Jonathan Haidt discuss the Internet and political polarization (and the effect on kids)

KS-CO border 2022-5-22

Lex Fridman (whose ancestry includes Russian and Ukrainian) interviews Jonathan Haidt, “The Case Against Social Media”, 102 minutes, June 4.

Lex Fridman interviews Johnathan Haidt

Haidt, recall, is a co-author of “The Coddling of the American Mind” (my 2019 review ; Amazon Site Stripe).

Lex has made several clips from this on his “Lex Clips” YouTube Channel.

Haidt has previously noted the “safeyism” that started to affect parents in the 1990s, when they would be less likely to let their kids play outside unsupervised (at least the richer kids).

He notes that the Internet gradually became more important to people as a source of information, with blogs and flat sites first, and then with social media (starting with Myspace) gradually becoming more important in the 2000’s.  (Remember all those Dr. Phil programs like around 2007, “Internet Mistakes” on Myspace first).  There were other problems, too (as shown by the NBC series “To Catch a Predator” that started in 2005), and some infamous incidents (like with Justin Berry). 

Starting around 2012 or so, after Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and YouTube, were more established, all larger tech companies started using algorithms based on recording visitor behavior and coordinating it with advertisers.  This business model tended to give people what they wanted to see. But it gradually drove political polarization, which enemies (like Russia) could subvert even before the 2016 election, when  Trump won.  Political polarization tends to lead to cancel culture, because people fear being “attacked” on a medium like Twitter by their “enemies”. 

But the algorithms also did something else. They particularly affected pre-teens (allowed to join most services around age 13), especially teen girls, who would become inordinately concerned about their social popularity online and their potential sexual competitiveness with boys before they had even finished puberty.   Some people argue this is driving some pre-teen girls to believe they are transgender and to seek social accommodation and treatment. (This will be covered again in another book discussion).

Haidt believes that people under 16 should not be allowed to have their own social media accounts, and that other online activities before 16 should be limited.

However, you run into some teenagers who were incredibly mature when they started Internet usage with their channels (like Max Reisinger and John Fish).  The social problems may be more severe for girls.

I’ll also share a recent video from PragerU about China’s recent “progress” with its social credit system.

(Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at 9 PM EDT)

Bret Weinstein doubles down on COVID origins and vaccine testing; Ballen presents Alibaba’s proposal for (soft and voluntary) climate-change social credit (personal carbon footprint scores)

Taste of Montreal truck at Alexandria Pride

Bret Weinstein is interviewed by Freddie Sayers of the Unherd, as Bret says, “I Will Be Vindicated About COVID“.

Weinstein insists that it is reckless to give mRNA vaccines to younger adults if not otherwise at great risk of severe disease.  He is critical of big Pharma’s business models. He insists that there has not been enough time to reasonably guess whether these vaccines will have now undetected long term effects on young adults.

My own impression from reading a lot, however, is that the risk even to young adults is greater if they get infected. 

Even Omicron seems to be more severe in the unvaccinated.  In the vaccinated and boosted, it often is very trivial and goes away within a day as a breakthrough.

On his own Darkhorse Podcast Clips he is interviewed by British reported Neil Oliver,  Her Weinstein insists we must reverse engineer the origin of the original strains in late 2019.  We won’t know how to properly assess vaccines, treatments, and other policies (like lockdowns) until we do. He is right in that until we know exactly how the Wuhan strains arose in late 2019 (maybe even sooner), we won’t be able to reliably predict how future variants could behave. Michael Mina has written recently on Twitter that the SARS_CoV2 is “baby virus” relative to humans and will mutate more than older viruses until it finds an optimal configuration for durable spread. This may be accompanied with less virulence (like common colds) but not necessarily.

Also, May 30, Mallen Baker discusses the proposals for a “green social credit system, apparently proposed at Davos by a Chinese company called Alibaba.

The basic idea is a “personal carbon footprint tracker”, which could eventually become quasi-mandatory and dystopian.

People could get incentives or credits for certain behaviors. 

Since I travel alone a lot this could really affect me.  I resist “podification”. 

(Posted: Monday, June 6, 2022 at 11:30 PM EST by John W. Boushka)