Thursday, June 23, 2022

Critical Thinking


Here is the greatest scams in history:

Nigerian Prince: The 5 Biggest Scams In History

Can you be scammed?

Too Smart To Be Scammed? Try This Online Test To Find Out | Digital Trends


In this country we used to have something called the Fairness Doctrine. The fairness doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that fairly reflected differing viewpoints.

Paraphrased: issued by the FCC in 1949, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to give equal time for differing views on television and radio. That was until members of the Reagan administration abolished it in 1985.


"Lawmakers became concerned that the monopoly audience control of the three main networks, NBC, ABC and CBS, could misuse their broadcast licenses to set a biased public agenda.

The Fairness Doctrine mandated broadcast networks devote time to contrasting views on issues of public importance. Congress backed the policy in 1954 and by the 1970s the FCC called the doctrine the “single most important requirement of operation in the public interest – the sine qua non for grant of a renewal of license.

The Supreme Court upheld the doctrine. In 1969’s Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, journalist Fred Cook sued a Pennsylvania Christian Crusade radio program after a radio host attacked him on air. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld Cook's right to an on-air response under the Fairness Doctrine, arguing that nothing in the First Amendment gives a broadcast license holder the exclusive right to the airwaves they operate on.

The doctrine stayed in effect, and was enforced until the Reagan Administration. In 1985, under FCC Chairman, Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment." 

What do you think about the trustworthiness of this article?

What about the source? Does that make it more biased or less neutral? What are some reasons that striking down the requirement could be viewed as a good thing? What would Reagan's critics say?

Here's what the article goes on to say: 

"Fowler began rolling the application of the doctrine back during Reagan's second term - despite complaints from some in the Administration that it was all that kept broadcast journalists from thoroughly lambasting Reagan's policies on air. In 1987, the FCC panel, under new chairman Dennis Patrick, repealed the Fairness Doctrine altogether with a 4-0 vote."

What could the results of this be? What do you think of the following video?

What can we tell about a writer's tone in a piece? What about word choice? The way information is presented, order of importance and what is left out? Something to consider moving on.

History is replete with distortion, exaggeration, myths, and selective editing.

This an interesting website for going down rabbit holes:

We're trying to figure out did 300 Spartan warriors really hold off a Persian army of 100,000?

Speaking of going down a rabbit hole, this is a great site for trying to tweaker out a unbiased opinion:

And here is a good critical thinking exercise:

After skimming all 3 short articles, What is probably the truth?

Howard Zinn published a book in the 1980 called 'A People's History of the United States' in which many of history's sacred cows are lead up the ramp for stripping. people's History was most influential to an entire generation and has been used in many classrooms with millions of copies sold.

Here's an excerpt:

"What struck me as I began to study history was how nationalist fervor--inculcated from childhood on by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, flags waving and rhetoric blowing--permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own. I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own. Then we could never drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or napalm on Vietnam, or wage war anywhere, because wars, especially in our time, are always wars against children, indeed our children."

Zi. Zinn goes on to say that Supreme Emperor Hiro was ready to surrender and that the dropping of the atomic bomb was completely unnecessary.

Some have refuted claims made in the book, including teachers at Stanford. 

From Stanford Report, 

"Wineburg, one of the world's top researchers in the field of history education, raises larger issues about how history should be taught.He says that Zinn's desire to cast a light on what he saw as historic injustice was a crusade built on secondary sources of questionable provenance, omission of exculpatory evidence, leading questions and shaky connections between evidence and conclusions."

    What do you think about the expression 'history is written by the winners?'

Wineburg continues to say, 

"Zinn roots his argument that the Japanese were prepared to surrender before the United States dropped the atomic bomb on a diplomatic cable from the Japanese to the Russians, supposedly signaling a willingness to capitulate. Wineburg writes that Zinn not only excludes the responses to the cable, but also that he fails in the later editions of the book to incorporate the vast new scholarship that emerged after the death of the Emperor Hirohito with the publication of memoirs and new availability of public records, all of which support the position of Japan's resolve to fight to the last.

History, Wineburg notes, is messy. And the most responsible thing for educators to do is to leave elbowroom for the mess. "History as truth, issued from the left or the right, abhors shades of gray," Wineburg writes, adding, "Such a history atrophies our tolerance for complexity. It makes us allergic to exceptions to the rule. Worst of all it depletes the moral courage we need to revise our beliefs in the face of new evidence.

"It insures ultimately that tomorrow we will think exactly as we thought yesterday – and the day before and the day before that."


What do you think the truth is? How much does it matter what actually happened? Why is it that things in the past seem less controversial? Can you think of anything in the far distant past that is still controversial? How long does something take to stop being inflammatory? Are there somethings that will always be polarizing? Would you agree that truth is in the middle or not always?

The way some people try to find the truth is ask themselves who stands to benefit, what would the motivation be, and who has the power to cover it up?

What about fact-checkers? While most people judge fact-checking to be for the greater good, there is even some controversy swirling around their neutrality.

From the American Thinker:

"In a court filing responding to a lawsuit filed by John Stossel claiming that he was defamed by a "fact check" Facebook used to label a video by him as "misleading," Meta's attorneys assert that the "fact check" was an "opinion," not an actual check of facts and declaration of facts.  Under libel law, opinions are protected from liability for libel.

In America we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which was ratified in 1791. Based on Natural Law, The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution makes the argument that our rights come from the creator and government sole purpose is to protect those rights. Moreover, the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Is the Constitution outdated? Are all Amendments absolute? Is it okay to change them? Why would that be a gold or bad thing? Recently, companies have censored some topics on social media platforms, the argument was they are a company and they can do what they want, then Elon Musk bought Twitter and promised to make the algorithms public and reduce censorship. The argument became unrestricted free speech could lead the hate speech. What do you think of all this? If there is a line where do we draw it? 

As long as the government didn't get involved in limiting speech there was no real conflict. Then the government got involved. To many the attempt to create a Disinformation Board reminded them of the Ministry of Truth from the novel 1984. Either because the Disinformation Board fell victim to misinformation or because it ran afoul of the 1st Amendment is up for debate but regardless it was put on pause.

Here Winston Smith reads from a banned book in Orwell's dystopian future world,

"The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink."

– George Orwell, 1984

What are some examples of fake news having serious consequences?

What of what we have read today is biased? How could it be less so?

Some recent studies have stated that the average person now has an attention span of less than 8 seconds. Less than that of a goldfish? Do you think that's accurate? Why would someone misrepresent those numbers?

And that's in the news, what about what we can see with our own eyes?!

Some psychological reasons for bias:

Confirmation Bias:

Cognitive Dissonance


Friday, May 6, 2022

Body Language

It has been said that 80% of communication is non-verbal. And if you know the tricks to spot a liar or what's going on in the persons internal/subconscious world, we are less likely to get duped. Being able to 'read' a person is a very important skill to have. With that in mind we will look at clips and decide if the person is telling the truth or not. And/or what is happening in the person's inner world.


BASELINE: Everyone has a different emotional baseline. If someone twitches or fidgets we would probably assume they are nervous and lying but maybe they do that all the time, so they might do something different when stretching the truth.

ESL: This is an acronym for eye blocking, shrugging and lip concealing. When fibbing people have a hard time looking at someone directly or they blink a lot. Shrugging maybe hard to catch sometimes but it shows they are uncertain of something. And when people conceal their lips it could mean they are hiding something.

OPEN POSTURE vs. CLOSED POSTURE: Is the body open in a relaxed manner? Or is it closed, the arms folded, legs crossed? Is the person defensive? All of these tell tale signs show us what's happening on the inside.

Learning to decode body language is powerful and one of the most important nonverbal communication skills. Also good body language can make us look relaxed and approachable in conversation.  


 Let's take a look at Bill Clinton being interviewed by Jim Lehrer...

original Interview of Bill Clinton by K=Jim Lehrer on PBS

Now Bill Clinton is a master liar. So good in fact that many body language experts say that in the following, now famous, press conference he has actual convinced himself that he is telling the truth via semantics...

Sometimes the body language can be very obvious...

Here's one of the most ridiculous liars as of recent, Prince Andrew...

"A dingo ate my baby!" is a cry popularly attributed to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, as part of the 1980 death of Azaria Chamberlain case, at Uluru in the Northern Territory, Australia. The Chamberlain family had been camping near the rock when their nine-week-old daughter was taken from their tent by a dingo.

Professional cyclist Lance Armstrong was loved by the American public for his multiple Tour De France victories and his courageous battle against cancer. But in 2012, after years of denial by Armstrong, it was revealed that he was using performance-enhancing drugs during his Tour victories.  Shortly thereafter, Armstrong was permanently banned from professional cycling.

Miley was all laughs when she told Cosmopolitan in 2013 that she had recently married boyfriend Liam Hemsworth in secret. This was later revealed to be a lie.

Watergate set the bar for a world leader telling lies when President Richard Nixon denied involvement in the snooping scandal, declaring, “I am not a crook,” in a nationally televised press conference. . Two journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein from The Washington Post exposed the ‘dirty tricks’ of the Nixon administration.

Answers to Clinton interview: 'Thank you Jim' blinking cluster above emotional baseline, called eye blocking, could be suppressing images from hippocampus, part of brain that stores images. No mirroring, Lehrer open legs, Clinton legs crossed arms folded. Nod of head followed by shaking head while saying no, doesn't go together 'that is not true'. Could be due to adrenaline spike. Then he starts to calm down. More rapid blinks. Trying to block out images. Answered a question that hasn't been asked. Hands go from linked position to hands being steepled, authority move, yet legs still crossed. Leg kicks out, Hypothalamus processes information and sends it to Amygdala for flight or flight or Cortex for rational/logical thinking. Amygdala will overpower Cortex if activated. Amygdala sends message to Hypothalamus which talks to pituitary gland to make adrenaline producing leg kick. Head comes down and there's lip compression; wants to say something but holding back and ends up answering a question that hasn't been asked. Sums up with generalities. Sales tactic like getting someone to say yes a lot. Clinton pulls on emotional heart strings at end.

BONUS: Paltering and Limited Hang Out

source: Believing Bruce

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Progress of Artificial Intelligence

Writing a hook:

We can start an essay with a shocking statistic, question to audience, quote or anecdote. Writing an Anecdote - can you think of a time where technology really impressed you? Or a time that tech tripped you out? (like how you'll be talking about something and then there's an advertisement for it on your phone)

Let's start with the Turin Test:

The Turing test, originally called the imitation game by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so the result would not depend on the machine's ability to render words as speech. If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test results do not depend on the machine's ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely its answers resemble those a human would give.

source: Wikipedia

In the 90's, in the early days of the internet, companies began experimenting with bots in chatrooms who would pretend to be long lost friends and casually mention that they just bought a new Ford truck and are very happy with the gas mileage and features.

Early into the talk or at the end it could be a good idea to foster discussion or have them take a test to truly immerse audience into the subject. What is an experiment that can be done on the class to have them guess if they are talking to a person or a AI chatbot?

Here's an example but this might take too long:

Other AI advances of interest:

AI beats chess grand champion,prevailed%20in%20a%20traditional%20tournament.

Try reading and paraphrasing as you go, only write down words or short phrases to summarize, identify who, what, when, where, why, how.

Now try rewriting the article, including 5 W + H, this time describing the scene using sensory details, sight, smell, sound, touch, taste.

Google's AI - Gather the Apples

read and summarize after finished reading from memory

Including quotes:

Terrance McKenna on AI

Shorter talk:

Notice the word choice of McKenna  - choose some quotes from this talk -  listen from 7:12

Additional AI Oddities:

Computer generated faces

best deep fakes

best 10

best 20 watch #2

Where it's heading...


Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, talks about this year's theme for their annual gathering in Davos, the 4th industrial revolution.

additional articles:

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Fog of War

Wartime Propaganda is nothing new:

  • Ancient Greek commander Themistocles, in 480 BCE, used a disinformation campaign to lure Xerxes into a naval battle at the Straits of Salamis. The strait was so narrow that the large Persian fleet could not manuever. This helped the outnumbered Greeks defeat Xerxes.
  • Alexander used images of himself on statues, monuments and coins as propaganda.
  • Propaganda was used extensively in the Roman Empire; Julius Caesar was exceptionally good at it.
  • Pope Urban II used religious propaganda to stir up support for the Crusades (12th & 13th centuries).
  • Martin Luther appeared to be a propaganda master, knowing exactly how to get his message out in the most effective way, thus setting off the Reformation.
  • The Vatican countered Luther with a propaganda campaign in the Counter-Reformation. Its purpose was to solidify the Catholic Church's dominance, and it worked very well.
  • Benjamin Franklin is noted as being skilled at propaganda in the time of the Revolution. So was Thomas Jefferson.
  • From the Napoleonic Wars through the U.S. Civil War, propaganda was used extensively and effectively.
  • In the 19th century, the political cartoon emerged as a very effective form of Propaganda. The name best remembered is Thomas Nast.

There's some background, now in this post we'll be focusing on the 20th and 21st Century and American.

In Wartime all sides release propaganda, counter propaganda and half-truths. In addition, the staging of False Flag operations is common. 


At 9:40pm on February 15, 1898, the battleship U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, killing 268 men and shocking the American populace. Of the two-thirds of the crew who perished, only 200 bodies were recovered and 76 identified.

The sinking of the Maine, which had been in Havana since February 15, 1898, on an official observation visit, was a climax in pre-war tension between the United States and Spain. In the American press, headlines proclaimed "Spanish Treachery!" and "Destruction of the War Ship Maine Was the Work of an Enemy!" William Randolph Hearst and his New York Journal offered a $50,000 award for the "detection of the Perpetrator of the Maine Outrage." Many Americans assumed the Spanish were responsible for the Maine's destruction.

On March 28, 1898, the United States Naval Court of Inquiry found that the Maine was destroyed by a submerged mine. Although blame was never formally placed on the Spanish, implication was clear. Recent research suggests that the explosion may have been an accident, involving a spontaneous combustion fire in the coal bunker. Some conspiracy theorists have even suggested that sensational journalist William Randolph Hearst may have set the explosion in order to precipitate a war. While historians will never know exactly what happened the night the Maine went down, it is clear that the incident was a significant force that propelled the United States into the Spanish-American War.

source: PBS


On March 1, 1917, the American public learned about a German proposal to ally with Mexico if the United States entered the war. Months earlier, British intelligence had intercepted a secret message from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican government, inviting an alliance (along with Japan) that would recover the southwestern states Mexico lost to the U.S. during the Mexican War of 1846-47.

Arthur Zimmermann's Speech Regarding the Zimmermann Telegram, 29 March 1917

"I wrote no letter to General Carranza.  I was not so naive.  I merely addressed, by a route that appeared to me to be a safe one, instructions to our representative in Mexico.

It is being investigated how these instructions fell into the hands of the American authorities.  I instructed the Minister to Mexico, in the event of war with the United States, to propose a German alliance to Mexico, and simultaneously to suggest that Japan join the alliance.

I declared expressly that, despite the submarine war, we hoped that America would maintain neutrality.

My instructions were to be carried out only after the United States declared war and a state of war supervened.  I believe the instructions were absolutely loyal as regards the United States..."

Some suspected the telegram might be a forgery to manipulate America into the war. 

Turns out it may not have been fake but the intentions were over-blown.



On May 7, 1915, the German submarine (U-boat) U-20 torpedoed and sank the Lusitania, a swift-moving British cruise liner traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. Of the 1,959 men, women, and children on board, 1,195 perished, including 123 Americans. A headline in the New York Times the following day—"Divergent Views of the Sinking of The Lusitania"—sums up the initial public response to the disaster. Some saw it as a blatant act of evil and transgression against the conventions of war. Others understood that Germany previously had unambiguously alerted all neutral passengers of Atlantic vessels to the potential for submarine attacks on British ships and that Germany considered the Lusitania a British, and therefore an "enemy ship."

Recent mini sub exploration of the wreck has confirmed that she was carrying vast amounts of war supplies in the form of ammunition. This made her a legitimate target under the Geneva Convention and “the accepted rules of engagement”. 

Erik Larson, an award winning historical non-fiction writer describes the scheme at 4:08 in this clip

source: PBS,


The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorized President Lyndon Johnson to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” by the communist government of North Vietnam.
Many suspect foul play.

source: simply history

great website:


Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the apparent aim of acquiring that nation's large oil reserves, canceling a large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region.

Stories of "babies thrown from incubators" played on people's emotions and fanned the flames of invasion.

The Nayirah testimony was a false testimony given before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and President George H. W. Bush in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992,

Even CNN got in the mix
This is a clip of "live coverage" of the 1993 Gulf War prefaced by leaked footage of the set where the "episode" was filmed. It shows CNN anchor Charles Jaco, famous for his Gulf War coverage, joking around on a CNN sound stage in Saudi Arabia. It is followed by a live satellite feed of the "actors" playing out a scene of the chaos of war.

source: Britannica, The Court Jesters Club


In March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. When WMD intelligence proved illusory and a violent insurgency arose, the war lost public support.


ABC News Airs "Syria" Footage From A Kentucky Gun Range

ABC News was heavily criticized this week after airing footage the network said showed an embattled Syrian border town — only for some viewers to point out it looked very similar to YouTube video from a Kentucky gun range. The network took down the video and apologized, but did not offer further explanation.

source: GBH News


'Ghost Of Kyiv' Fighter Pilot Blowing Up Russian Aircraft In Trending Clip Actually From Video Game

A clip of a Ukrainian fighter jet blowing up a suspected Russian aircraft started trending on social media yesterday. Many believed it was proof of the exploits of a mysterious and unverified ace pilot called the “Ghost of Kyiv.” It was actually fake footage from the 2013 PC game, Digital Combat Simulator: World.

Of course there are plenty more examples from many different countries throughout the long trudge of time. 

And who knows how many more are to come?


Writing activity

Do you think we'll ever stop starting wars? Why are some countries so eager to wage war, while others aren't? What wars has your country fought in the recent past? Would you fight in a war to save your country? What if they had a war and nobody showed up?

Find some part of war that moves you, not so much emotionally but in your gut, against your principles or moral code. Expand on that.

Now Reverse Engineer above information with what you want to say about war. What does your soul say about it?