The Importance of the Right of Free Association : Defending ourselves from the Shithead Hypothesis

Meet the ShitheadsOK here is the soon to be tremendously famous Shithead Hypothesis or The Simple Shithead Hypothesis for short:

“There are 3 groups of people in life 

      1. The largest are those we don’t know, then 

      2. The people we like, and finally 

      3. The people we’ve decided are shitheads.”  

You might come up with “friendlier” terms but in the end it’s really the same groupings….

The hypothesis came to mind when a very good friend asked me what could I do to make our current political system work better.  You’re probably wondering the same thing I was at the time what the hell does my thought have to do with the question?  Well, having “Madman” in my title you should expect some less than direct thinking.

The Shithead Hypothesis quickly turns into a problem when we get lazy and bucket people we don’t know as shitheads just because they are associated with a given group.  I mean what could go wrong assuming all people in a group are shitheads?  Don’t get me wrong there are some groups who truly support horrific ideas, e.g. hurting people, killing people, .…  But I’m talking about political parties here, not Boko Haram, the Aryan Brotherhood or NAMBLA.  And yeah parties are not in the same league! I mean don’t be a shithead…

Yet rhetoric, noise and money is aimed behind these artificial teams called political parties specially to make us think the “other side” is just a seeming pile of shitheads.  The sad things these teams are simply groups of Americans that would like to make life better but they see different problems and approaches.  Yeah that person you don’t know and can’t stand because of what “team” they’re on is trying to make your life better. But, since they’re shitheads we don’t listen to them at all.  In fact it is very effective to get an idea dismissed simply by associating it with the “shitheads”…

Ok great I see how this is a problem…  But Madman what is a step toward a solution?  Funny you should ask that (ok in my head you asked).  One of the main reasons this crazy rhetoric and division works is we divide people into political parties.  That is as far as our auspicious government is concerned you can only officially register with one party.  This forces people to choose a team (or not play at all).  However as Americans we all have the right to freely associate any and all groups we want at least those groups that will have us. And if we joined multiple parties we’re likely to understand they’re just groups of Americans rather than the worst shitheads ever.

So the solution? We need to sue states that do not allow us to register in multiple parties.  This won’t end political parties, just make us all more motivated o listen to each other a little bit more. Parties are of course allowed to reject people if they want to, but states simply need to respect our right to participate in any and as many parties as we want!

A Madman has spoken….

The Truth!? We don’t value the TRUTH!! : But maybe we could try….

Avoid the Lies and clicking on RruthDo we value truth?  Do you know why  fake newsies so persistent?…   Because it quite literally pays.  News items that get clicked on the most end up getting revenue.  And the more attention the more it drives those clicks.  Fake news is simply created to capture those clicks. Different stories crafted with words, memes, images and people that cry out to click me!! And truth doesn’t drive clicks…

Though it seems like an art form there is also a lot of science behind it.  For example marketing research companies study subject lines that will cause email to more likely be read.  Studying the click behavior of many different populations.  All aimed at finding the most effective communication to reach your audience.  Unfortunately Fake News uses this science making falsehoods payoff but not caring about truth.  Can data science make truth more valuable?

I’m not sure we can get there today but it is conceivable, and here’s how.

  1. Build a “Truth Grader” that reads ahead “news articles” that appear in your browser
  2. Then the grader breaks the article into opinion vs fact, capturing the fact / opinion ratio
  3. Next the grader tests the facts against trusted sources and determines an overall fact score
  4. Finally the Truth Grader puts a code based on the strength of facts with rill over details for the reader

Technically we’re actually not as far off as it may sound.  Step 1 and 4 are relatively straight forward, Step 3 maybe possible with a Watson like interface. Though determining “trusted sources” would likely be an area of much “discussion”.  It’s step 2 that would currently be the only real blocker.  And of course this gets harder with video and pictures

Of course the real question is would knowing that some juicy sounding story was probably fake stop us from clicking on it…  I am hopeful we’d teach the web we do value truth.  But at least we’d have a way to find out.

A Madman has Spoken….