Perspectives: Reestablishing Reality

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    The big lie: Nazi propaganda, antisemitism, and the coming of the Third Reich
    (Wichita State University, 2021-04-21) Hayton, Jeff
    After losing the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, Donald Trump spent months falsely claiming the election had been stolen from him. And despite all evidence to the contrary, many of his followers believe him (still). The historical parallel to this conspiracy were Nazi efforts to blame Jews for German defeat in WWI. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Nazis fulminated against the Jewish "traitors" and "November Criminals" who supposedly "stabbed Germany in the back," and through such falsehoods, generated tremendous popular support. In both cases, propaganda was essential in magnifying dishonest claims. In exploring how the Nazis used "the Big Lie" to gain support, this talk examines the role which propaganda and antisemitism played in the coming of the Third Reich, and the lessons which historical comparisons can provide for the present.
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    Motivated to ignore the facts
    (Wichita State University, 2021-04-07) Jarman, Jeffrey
    Classic conceptions of democracy are based, in part, on a vibrant public sphere where citizens are informed and engaged in public deliberation on important topics. Argumentation is central to this vision. Each side builds their case by marshalling the available evidence in support of their preferred conclusion. A rational public, it is assumed, takes in the evidence, evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the competing positions, and updates their opinions. Unfortunately, recent research in neuroscience and political psychology provides a direct challenge to this vision. Rather than evidence and argument shaping our opinions, our opinions shape our interpretation of evidence and argument. Efforts to reestablish a shared reality must account for individual motivations to discount information that is inconsistent with pre-existing attitudes.
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    Assets and deficits: Establishing an African-American narrative
    (Wichita State University, 2021-04-14) McCormick, Mark
    Assets and deficits: Establishing an African-American narrative In August of 2019, US Army soldier Glen Oakley ran toward gunfire echoing from an El Paso Walmart, grabbed an armful of children, and carried them to safety. In July, a Philadelphia man with a cracked hip climbed 15 floors to save his mother from her burning apartment building. In 2018, James Shaw Jr. wrestled an assault rifle away from a Nashville-area Waffle House shooter who'd killed four people. Despite these and other examples of heroism, the black male media narrative remains one of poverty and violence, a narrative relentlessly defining black men by their challenges instead of by their achievements. These old, virulent narratives stigmatize and even destroy lives. Why else are black children the face of poverty when 65 percent of poor children aren't black? The Army says black men serve at the highest rates. Why aren't black men the face of patriotism? The Centers for Disease Control says black men are the men most involved in raising their children. Why aren't black men the face of fatherhood? Negative narratives accumulate into what Trabian Shorters, CEO of BMe Community, calls "deficit framing" or defining people by their challenges. Perhaps that's why police peacefully arrest white mass murderers, but shoot unarmed black men. Or why innocent but dead black men like Botham Jean, killed in his Dallas home by an off-duty officer, have their personal lives ruthlessly interrogated. It has become chic to suggest that micro-aggressions are mere annoyances, but they accumulate. And they can kill.
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    Who shares misinformation online
    (Wichita State University, 2021-04-28) Menon, Mythili
    Misinformation on the web has several consequences for communities and democracy. Are consumers of news susceptible to false belief? Are certain personality traits more likely to share false information online? In this talk, I will report results of a news-sharing game where we tested the sharing behavior of consumers of news by incorporating fine-grained information such as personality traits, demographic information, including political beliefs. Our results have the potential of informing existing news-verification systems and social media of the differences between how end-users belonging to different personality traits consume and share misinformation online.
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    Science and bias
    (Wichita State University, 2021-05-05) Sterrett, Susan G.
    People often appeal to science as an antidote of sorts to propaganda and misinformation, as well as to individual biases and politically motivated interpretations. Yet history of science and current practice reveal that scientific work involves not just logic and mathematics, but narratives, too -- and models, interpretation of images, and analogical reasoning. Are these not ever likewise susceptible to faulty stereotypes, neglect of relevant observations, and biases in interpretation? If not, why not? If so, what can be done?