Over-reliance on oracles

To: The Supreme Gaslighter

About a third of the way into my walk this morning I realized I’d forgotten my phone at home (I got out of practice with my morning routine over the holidays). I’m chagrined to admit that I only realized this when I wondered whether the weather arbiter that lives inside my phone would call what was falling from the sky “drizzle” or “rain.”

Of course as soon as I realized that I didn’t have it, I suddenly felt vulnerable and insecure – what if I saw a crime occurring? What if someone came after me? What if I got hit by a car? What if my heart did something bad? OMG. I’d not been worried about any of those exceedingly low base rate possibilities until I knew my phone was at home. Of course the big worry was that something might (might) happen and there’d be no way for whomever to know who I am or that they should let Laura know what happened (my ID is in a little slot in my phone cover). I used to walk and walk and walk early mornings sans phone (and sans ID) and not worry about any of this, but now I’m so programmed that to not have my phone is to feel as though I’m without my security blanket.

It was also pretty ridiculous that my brain wanted my phone to tell me what to call what was falling from the sky, as if being out in it wasn’t giving me enough information and as if my 57 years of mostly living in the Pacific Northwest didn’t give me enough experience to call it myself. I was pretty sure it was heavy enough to be called rain, but maybe it was just drizzle…. Sigh.

And if I’m so dependent on the machine and its algorithms to “inform” me on something that is so directly observable, how vulnerable am I to over-relying on such machines and algorithms and parking my curiosity and critical thinking about the zillion things outside of my direct experience?

I know this is a small, trivial example of over-reliance on the Oracle, but it feels instructive (at least to me) when I think about the up-is-down and down-is-up tilt-o-world situation you’re creating in bestowing Devine Nunes with the Medal of Freedom for undermining and subverting the investigation into your campaigns ties with Russia and your obstruction of that investigation (and quite possibly Jim Jordan next week for his attacks on the Ukraine investigation). You clearly think this is a good propaganda move. You clearly think it helps legitimize the lies and counter-attacks you all have foisted on the American public these past four years. You clearly think it will quell any lingering doubts your base might have about maybe there having been something to the Mueller investigation. You clearly think this will lead to the following sort of statements (or thoughts):

“POTUS wouldn’t be giving Representative Nunes this great honor if he didn’t truly, in his heart of hearts, believe that Nunes was on the side of the angels in defending him against those heinous accusations about Russia.”

Ok, I know it’s unlikely anyone in your camp would think all of that precisely, but you get the idea. It’s a political ploy of the sickest, most devious sort and there are those among US who will lap it up like so much cream and never notice that it’s curdled.

Well played.

But there’s still the Raffensperger/Germany tape…. It’s gonna be hard to squirm out of that one – you sleaze.

May we be safe from manipulative low lifes.
May we be willing to think for ourselves.
May we keep our curiosity healthy and strong.
May we accept that we have blinders on and compensate accordingly.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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