(đź”’) NEW at RETRO Digital Culture (see the tweet following this for a discount link): "The Response to the Rittenhouse Verdict on Social Media Reveals the Rot in the American Experiment"

I think this is the talk we need to have. I hope you'll share this. retrostack.substack.com/p/the-response…
(DISCOUNT LINK) Click the link below to get 30% off an annual RETRO subscription (i.e., less than $3/month for a full year if you subscribe through November 30): retrostack.substack.com/p/the-first-ev…
(PS) After I posted my RETRO article about how far-right demagogues use anecdotes to poison reasoned criminal justice system discourse, Tim Pool began to trend on Twitter for claiming that the political left is represented by a madman who wrote that he wanted to harm Rittenhouse.
(PS2) The ease of Tim Pool’s grift is almost breathtaking. He doesn’t need to have any expertise, pedigree, training, experience, hard data, network of sources, or journalistic ethos—he just has to find an outlandish, one-off *anecdote* and say it’s a sign of impending civil war.
(PS3) In the main, response to the Rittenhouse verdict—in major media *and* on social media—was that it was not surprising; pointed to a need for reform in the criminal justice system; may have been in line with Wisconsin law; and shouldn’t have led to Rittenhouse being lionized.
(PS4) The reason grifters like Tim Pool and Andy Ngo are winning the information war is that they’ve learned that half the country is just looking for one anecdote to confirm what they already believe. And as a rule of thumb, at least one anecdote always exists to prove anything.
(PS5) As I wrote at RETRO, it’s true that hard data can also be misleadingly framed. But it’s far harder to do this than to find a single outlier anecdote—and the moment you concede hard data is infinitely preferable to anecdote, you shift the battlefield to more reasoned debate.
(PS6) It’s via a liberal arts education that one learns to reason with data and expertise rather than anecdote—anecdote is a medieval, pre-Enlightenment mode of reasoning—which is why the far right desperately wants to destroy colleges/universities. They make people less pliable.
(PS7) It’s precisely *because* the post-Enlightenment reasoning skills one learns via a liberal arts education make one less pliable—and less susceptible to grifters like Pool—that a major thrust of their information war is to falsely claim higher ed makes people *more* pliable.
(PS8) A conventional civil war isn’t likely coming—and certainly not of the armed-camp 19th-century sort—but one could credibly argue that we’re in an “information civil war” right now, one fought not with violence but rhetorical schema. Pool and Ngo are dangerous actors in this.
(PS9) Given how big and anonymous the internet is, Pool would’ve needed *hundreds* of *confirmed* leftists calling for harm to Rittenhouse to make any coherent point. Instead one local Dem social media director called Waukesha “karma” and was instantly fired. That’s all Pool had.
(PS10) Fortunately for Pool, his audience is so uneducated that all they needed was *one tweet*—anonymous or not, provably leftist or not (hell, authored by Pool or one of his associates or not)—to declare that “they” (the left) isn’t just “bad” but violent, evil, geared for war.
(PS11) The scary part is that on these terms, the information war is unwinnable. Because the fact is, many on the left *also* weaponize anecdotes regularly—so much so that it’s reached the point we *all* do it occasionally.

Which means we’re already fighting on impossible terms.
(PS12) Maybe once we could’ve leaned on institutions to re-orient the culture, but corporate media makes more money off anecdotes than hard data and politicians now hunt for anecdotes to win arguments just like Pool does. We’re on a downward spiral I don’t believe we can get off.
(PS13) I sometimes wonder if *anyone* is strong enough to push back on the degradation of our rhetorical schema. Just when I think I’m doing OK, I find myself clapping back at (say) Candace Owens—a person who exists *only* to entice the left into lapsing into anecdotal reasoning.
(PS14) The goal—which I now think is unattainable—is finding a common language for reality that over 75% of us are willing to speak. Hard data is one option; curatorial journalism, another; think-tanks staffed by unimpeachable experts another. All face mountainous obstacles, now.
(P15) I’m a curatorial journalist; I often use hard data to answer questions (I do a lot of this at RETRO via the “Definitive Top 100” methodology I’m developing there); and I’ve tried to develop several areas of expertise via my terminal degrees. But I still lapse into anecdote.
(CONCLUSION) I guess I’m just adding to the chorus of voices saying that—when something is trending in media—ask yourself, “Does it really *mean* anything outside the situation in which it arose? Does it really *prove* anything? What else is needed for it to establish a *trend*?”

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More from @SethAbramson

22 Nov
I often disagree with Bill, and disagree with some of this. I think he oscillates between pretending the far left and the Democratic Party are synonymous and acknowledging they're not. The Democratic Party is diverse; it's the *GOP* that made its fringe the whole of its project.
(PS) What idiot conservatives like Scott Adams are missing in trumpeting this video is that Maher *is* a classical liberal, and *is* saying that the Democratic Party's *policies* are where most of the country is—including, yes, the white Heartland.

The issue is, paradoxically...
(PS2) ...that folks like Maher conflating the Democratic Party and its left-most fringe is *precisely* the problem the party faces. Why? Because a party can't control all its fringes—unless it's an authoritarian party like the GOP—but it *can* ask people to focus on its policies.
Read 14 tweets
19 Nov
If this insurrectionist leader thinks this will stop me from reporting on her ongoing seditious attempts to destroy American democracy, she is wrong.
(PS) Note that the tweet by this person that I attacked in the strongest possible terms—pre-block—was one in which she urged her far-right insurrectionist followers to “be like Kyle,” i.e. armed vigilantes.
(PS2) But I'm sure she was also unnerved by my revelation that members of Trump's January 5 Trump International Hotel war room are political donors of hers.

She is an Oath Keeper, a sponsor of domestic terrorist Ali Alexander, and a clear and present danger to the United States.
Read 4 tweets
19 Nov
(1 of 2) I hope everyone is screenshotting the statements being made today by top Republicans and far-rght demagogues. It won't be long before someone in the antifa movement brings an AR-15 to a Proud Boys or Oath Keeper event and starts shooting if someone throws a plastic bag.
(2 of 2) This is precisely why—unlike Republican leaders and unlike far-right demagogues—those of us who believe in peace and the rule of law are urging all parties to stay away from protests in which they are not participating, and to by no means go to such protests while armed.
PS/ The reason to screenshot today's comments by Republican leaders and far-right demagogues is that this sort of vigilante violence—which is wholly unacceptable—will undoubtedly come from both ends of the political spectrum. Anyone not condemning it categorically isn't a leader.
Read 4 tweets
19 Nov
This is the result that most criminal defense attorneys have been saying we would see since the beginning of the trial. Take that for what it's worth, which may be absolutely nothing. I know a lot of people are upset and hurting right now over this verdict.
(PS) I mention this because the hunt will now be on for far-right demagogues searching through social media to find journalists predicting a conviction. They'll have to search very hard, as most experts predicted the verdict we just saw and did so from very early on in the trial.
(PS2) In fact, the people least confident of an acquittal where those on the far right. Yesterday, Newsmax falsely reported that the jury was deadlocked 6-6; the far right believed it and soon began spinning conspiracy theories. Those on the left continued to expect an acquittal.
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
(đź”’) BREAKING NEWS: Three Major Revelations About the January 6 Insurrection Just Dropped

I hope you'll subscribe, read, and RT—these revelations about the funding of January 6, a key January 5 war council, and the January 6 Ellipse speakers are critical. sethabramson.substack.com/p/breaking-new…
Summary #1: Everything we thought about the funding of January 6 appears to be wrong.
Summary #2: The first new attendee of the January 5 Trump International Hotel war council to be revealed in six months has now been revealed—and the identity of this person *and what we now know they did at the hotel* may change everything about who was responsible for January 6.
Read 5 tweets
18 Nov
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you—below—the biggest turd on Twitter. This man has plagued my hometown, Boston, for decades. The only thing he has even a mediocre grasp of is sports, but despite a troglodytic IQ believes he knows better than anyone about everything else, too.
When he got pushed out at WEEI in 2019 Callahan blamed "dark forces" and "bad people"—your typical blame-everyone-else-first Trumpist "victim" who can't take responsibility for his abject mediocrity. This is who far-right snowflakes are and always will be. nbcboston.com/news/local/ger…
Callahan tends to have the biggest problem with women of color—whom he habitually deems stupid—but hey! it's just a coincidence! stop seeing race in everything! /s

Only Boston would let a white guy with a subzero knowledge of crime and justice opine about it on-air for 30 years.
Read 5 tweets

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