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Cambridge Analytica, facebook and how ‘Beyond Belief’ cures brain-washing (opinion video)

March 29, 2018

Cambridge Analytica, facebook and how ‘Beyond Belief’ cures brain-washing (opinion video)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Some readers are annoyed by this series on belief. They say, “My beliefs are my own business!” 

Well, not any more!

Your beliefs are big business — as we see with facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

We think that facebook is a place to keep in touch with friends. True. But it’s also a great place to reveal facts about our lives and broadcast our beliefs to the world. And all those crazy quizzes — Which city should I live in? What famous author would I be? Do I have what it takes to survive on Mars? — reveal a lot more than we imagine.

Cambridge Analytica has this all figured out as it mines our data and conducts “psychographic analysis” for a “deeper knowledge of the target audience.” I think I’d rather be probed by aliens.

In other words, their superpower is to uncover your beliefs so they can manipulate your behavior and, among other things, win elections for people who may not belong in office.

So to put this Web series’ mission in perspective: We tend to think we know tons of facts and rationally base our decisions and actions on them, but “Beyond Belief” operates on the theory that the “ton of facts” in our heads is really just a hundred pounds of information intermixed with tons and tons of unrecognized beliefs, highly susceptible to influence.

And “Beyond Belief” says, “If you’re aware of how your mind confuses facts and beliefs, you are less likely to be manipulated by family, friends or foes; by tradition or theology; by peer pressure, politicians, think-tanks — or by covert psychographic manipulators.” 

In other words, “Beyond Belief” is like a flu shot for Cambridge Analytica. And we think it’s  worthwhile, even if some people complain about it.

So, get past the naive idea that your beliefs are your own business.

They’re big business — and that’s not likely to change.

Please watch the video above for an expanded version of this opinion essay, and let me know how I did matching the soundtrack and visuals to ideas. Thanks!

“Beyond Belief” is an ongoing experimental series, which explores viewpoints using philosophy, psychology, theology, mythology, sociology, literature, science and humor. We believe it’s a crucial project in our current environment where fictions and feelings too often override the facts, or as one writer put it, where “tribal allegiances erode our shared empirical understandings of the world.” 

It’s not easy asking people to enter the scary and confusing realm where speculation, knowledge, truth and reality interact but “Beyond Belief” tries to do it in a nonthreatening and entertaining manner. The goal is to reduce the dogmatism and polarization that grips this country.

As we slip backward into a modern Dark Ages, “Beyond Belief” hopes to bring the message that democracy dies without dialogue and that enlightenment is not only possible, it can be interesting, rewarding — and even fun.