To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Observercast

Feedback Loops Amplify Dangers

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“In climate science, amplifying feedback loops are situations where a climate-caused alteration can trigger a process that causes even more warming, which in turn intensifies the alteration. An example would be warming in the Arctic, leading to melting sea ice, which results in further warming because sea water absorbs rather than reflects solar radiation.”

In February, Oregon State University, as the lead institute in a collaboration by international scientists, published that disturbing conclusion in the journal One Earth, citing 27 such “global warming accelerators.”

Christopher Wolf, OSU College of Forestry postdoctoral scholar, co-leader of the study, had even worse news, according to Science Daily:

“Climate models may be underestimating the acceleration in global temperature change because they aren’t fully considering this large and related set of amplifying feedback loops, The accuracy of climate models is crucial as they help guide mitigation efforts by telling policymakers about the expected effects of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”

This isn’t a belated Earth Day column. There are other dangerous feedback loops also wreaking havoc upon us.

Just last week, one person was killed and three others were shot and wounded because of mistaken addresses. The constant feedback loop about crime in America has scared many of our neighbors to shoot at anything that frightens them: a black teen on a doorstep, people turning around in the driveway, a cheerleader opening the door of what she thought was her own car.

Get a gun. Protect yourself. Stand your ground. Open fire – and hope that a Gov. Greg Abbott will pardon you later.

I was concerned that the proliferation of open carry laws indicated people were too scared to venture forth in public without packing heat. Evidently, there are a lot of scared folks out there, cowering in the amplifying feedback loop of random violence – that they then fulfill.

Oh, yeah. A six-year-old, her parents and a neighbor were shot when a basketball rolled into another neighbor’s yard. Those six-year-olds can be as scary as cheerleaders.

One dangerous feedback loop was confirmed last week, but whether its source ever closes remains doubtful. Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems for its on-air commentators continued lying allegations that Dominion had rigged its machines to ensure Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in 2020.

During the disclosure phase, we learned that Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro continually spewed lies claiming the election was rigged. They knew better. They said so off-screen. They just kept lying.

Some viewers trapped in this Faux News amplifying feedback loop have resorted to violence and threats of more violence. The rhetoric accelerated upward, exciting and inciting passions when a dose of the truth would have served this country better than pandering to the inflated ego of a sociopath, who began his attack on the American voting system when his snowflake feelings were hurt that, though he won the Electoral College vote, he lost the popular vote in 2016.

And he continues spouting that lie, with GOP sycophants and cowards refusing to cross him for fear of retaliation. They keep the lie on Repeat. Their public religiosity exposed as gross hypocrisy.

Maybe the ad revenue it raked in by running its feedback loop of lies offsets the payout. Obviously, Fox News was worried about a trial on the original $1.6 billion suit after its collective perfidy had been exposed.

Commenting on the settlement, Fox News said, “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.” Yes, since they knew them to be false at the time those claims were uttered. Executives as well.

The test of whether Fox News is a real news organization or a just a fascist mouthpiece is put forward in another part of the settlement statement: “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Continued commitment? You have just acknowledged no commitment whatsoever.

Over the course of my 55 years in the media/political arena, I recall at least two high profile instances where young journalists at prominent liberal papers were caught making up stories in order to advance their careers. They were fired immediately.

We can judge the veracity of Fox News’ commitment to “the highest journalistic standards” by the number of on-air liars who get booted out the door for lying to their viewers, knowingly lying to the viewers, repeatedly lying to their viewers.

Tucker Carlson’s departure is a surprising step in the right direction.

Do not underestimate the danger these amplifying feedback loops of lies [and complicit silence] are causing this country.

Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.