Google Search Manipulation Can Swing Nearly 80 Percent of Undecided Voters

Google Search Manipulation Can Swing Nearly 80 Percent of Undecided Voters, by Allum Bokhari.

By inserting negative search suggestions under the name of a candidate, search engines like Google can shift the opinions of undecided voters by up to 43.4 percent, according to new research by a team at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and reported exclusively by Breitbart News.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Epstein, has previously conducted research into what he calls the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME). This research showed that the manipulation of results pages in search engines can shift the voting preferences of undecideds by anywhere between 20 and 80 percent, depending on the demographic. …

The researchers conclude that by using this method of manipulation, search engines can shift a “50/50 split split among people who are undecided on an issue to a 90/10 split without people’s awareness and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to follow.” …

“A single negative search suggestion can impact opinions dramatically. Participants who were shown four negative suggestions (and no positives) shifted away from the candidate shown in the search bar (-43.4%).” …

Further on in the paper, the researchers reference allegations of search suggestion manipulation made against Google during the 2016 election, when the tech giant appeared to be suppressing negative search suggestions for Hillary Clinton while allowing negative suggestions for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to remain.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific

12 principles for a 21st century conservatism

12 principles for a 21st century conservatism, by Jordan Peterson.

  1. The fundamental assumptions of Western civilization are valid.
  2. Peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war. In consequence, it justly and rightly demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.
  3. Hierarchies of competence are desirable and should be promoted.
  4. Borders are reasonable. Likewise, limits on immigration are reasonable. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual-rights predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.
  5. People should be paid so that they are able and willing to perform socially useful and desirable duties.
  6. Citizens have the inalienable right to benefit from the result of their own honest labor.
  7. It is more noble to teach young people about responsibilities than about rights.
  8. It is better to do what everyone has always done, unless you have some extraordinarily valid reason to do otherwise.
  9. Radical change should be viewed with suspicion, particularly in a time of radical change.
  10. The government, local and distal, should leave people to their own devices as much as possible.
  11. Intact heterosexual two-parent families constitute the necessary bedrock for a stable polity.
  12. We should judge our political system in comparison to other actual political systems and not to hypothetical utopias.

Chinese Journalist Banned From Flying, Buying Property Under New ‘Social Credit Score’ System

Chinese Journalist Banned From Flying, Buying Property Under New ‘Social Credit Score’ System, by Ben Tracy.

China is rolling out a high-tech plan to give all of its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave.

But there are consequences if a score gets too low, and for some that’s cause for concern, CBS2’s Ben Tracy reported Tuesday.

When Liu Hu recently tried to book a flight, he was told he was banned from flying because he was on the list of untrustworthy people. Liu is a journalist who was ordered by a court to apologize for a series of tweets he wrote and was then told his apology was insincere.

“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” he said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”

And the list is now getting longer as every Chinese citizen is being assigned a social credit score — a fluctuating rating based on a range of behaviors. It’s believed that community service and buying Chinese-made products can raise your score. Fraud, tax evasion and smoking in non-smoking areas can drop it. …

The fear, of course, it that the government may use this social credit scoring system to punish people that it deems not sufficiently loyal to the communist party, Tracy reported. And trying to clear your name or fight your score is nearly impossible, because there’s no due process.

Diversity On-Demand: Rent-A-Minority

Diversity On-Demand: Rent-A-Minority. A new website.

Rent-A-Minority is a revolutionary new service designed for those oh-shit moments where you’ve realized your award show, corporate brochure, conference panel is entirely composed of white men. For, like, the fifth year in a row. Suddenly you’re being called out on Twitter and you need to look not-racist and not-misogynist fast. Actually doing something meaningful to disrupt institutional inequality would be way too much work; so why not just Rent-A-Minority instead?

We have a minority for every occasion. Whether it’s a tech conference panel, an awards show, an advert, or a business meeting, we will collaborate to find the right minority for you. All of our minorities have been vetted to ensure they are not “too black” or “too Muslim” or “too much of a Feminist.” We know how awkward that can be. Each minority comes with bespoke pricing based on a proprietary algorithm that analyzes current states of supply/demand and the Degree of Diversity (TM) intrinsic to the potential hire.

Smiling Muslim Woman. Certified not to support ISIS (or your money back).

Intellectual Black Guy. Good for tech conferences. Also available to stand next to you while you say racist things at parties. Because you can’t be racist if one of your best friends is black, obvs.

It is of course a joke, but the best humor involves pain and truth.

Why is everyone so busy?

Why is everyone so busy? Time poverty is a problem partly of perception and partly of distribution. By The Economist.

On average, people in rich countries have more leisure time than they used to. …

American men toil for pay nearly 12 hours less per week, on average, than they did 40 years ago — a fall that includes all work-related activities, such as commuting and water-cooler breaks. Women’s paid work has risen a lot over this period, but their time in unpaid work, like cooking and cleaning, has fallen even more dramatically, thanks in part to dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves and other modern conveniences, and also to the fact that men shift themselves a little more around the house than they used to. …

Time is money:

When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable. And the more valuable something becomes, the scarcer it seems.

Individualistic cultures, which emphasise achievement over affiliation, help cultivate this time-is-money mindset. … Larger, wealthy cities, with their higher wage rates and soaring costs of living, raise the value of people’s time further still. New Yorkers are thriftier with their minutes — and more harried — than residents of Nairobi. London’s pedestrians are swifter than those in Lima. The tempo of life in rich countries is faster than that of poor countries. A fast pace leaves most people feeling rushed. …

Being busy can make you rich, but being rich makes you feel busier still. Staffan Linder, a Swedish economist, diagnosed this problem in 1970. Like Becker, he saw that heady increases in the productivity of work-time compelled people to maximise the utility of their leisure time. The most direct way to do this would be for people to consume more goods within a given unit of time. To indulge in such “simultaneous consumption”, he wrote, a chap “may find himself drinking Brazilian coffee, smoking a Dutch cigar, sipping a French cognac, reading the New York Times, listening to a Brandenburg Concerto and entertaining his Swedish wife—all at the same time, with varying degrees of success.” Leisure time would inevitably feel less leisurely, he surmised, particularly for those who seemed best placed to enjoy it all. The unexpected product of economic progress, according to Linder, was a “harried leisure class”. …

The ability to satisfy desires instantly also breeds impatience, fuelled by a nagging sense that one could be doing so much else. People visit websites less often if they are more than 250 milliseconds slower than a close competitor, according to research from Google.

Time and class:

Thirty years ago low-paid, blue-collar workers were more likely to punch in a long day than their professional counterparts. …

But nowadays professionals everywhere are twice as likely to work long hours as their less-educated peers. Few would think of sparing time for nine holes of golf, much less 18. (Golf courses around the world are struggling to revamp the game to make it seem speedy and cool—see article.) And lunches now tend to be efficient affairs, devoured at one’s desk, with an eye on the e-mail inbox. At some point these workers may finally leave the office, but the regular blinking or chirping of their smartphones kindly serves to remind them that their work is never done. …

All this work has left less time for play. Though leisure time has increased overall, a closer look shows that most of the gains took place between the 1960s and the 1980s. Since then economists have noticed a growing “leisure gap”, with the lion’s share of spare time going to people with less education.

In America, for example, men who did not finish high-school gained nearly eight hours a week of leisure time between 1985 and 2005. Men with a college degree, however, saw their leisure time drop by six hours during the same period, which means they have even less leisure than they did in 1965, say Mark Aguiar of Princeton University and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago. The same goes for well-educated American women, who not only have less leisure time than they did in 1965, but also nearly 11 hours less per week than women who did not graduate from high school. …

So if leisureliness was once a badge of honour among the well-off of the 19th century, in the words of Thorsten Veblen, an American economist at the time, then busyness — and even stressful feelings of time scarcity — has become that badge now. To be pressed for time has become a sign of prosperity, an indicator of social status, and one that most people are inclined to claim. This switch, notes Jonathan Gershuny, the director of Oxford University’s Centre for Time Use Research, is only natural in economies where the most impressive people seem to have the most to do. …

But without a doubt the noisiest grumbles come from working parents, not least the well-educated ones. Time-use data reveals why these people never have enough time: not only are they working the longest hours, on average, but they are also spending the most time with their children. …

Leisure time is now the stuff of myth. Some are cursed with too much. Others find it too costly to enjoy. Many spend their spare moments staring at a screen of some kind, even though doing other things (visiting friends, volunteering at a church) tends to make people happier. Not a few presume they will cash in on all their stored leisure time when they finally retire, whenever that may be.

Finland pulls the plug on guaranteed basic income experiment

Finland pulls the plug on guaranteed basic income experiment, by Thomas Lifson.

In oh-so progressive Scandinavia, Finland tried and quickly discovered that the latest hot idea among the techno-lords of Silicon Valley (and their lackeys in the California Democratic Party) is a dud. The failed idea for the way the rest of us should live is so-called Universal Basic Income. …

Business Insider Nordic reports that this is such a bad idea that when Finland actually tried it, the failure was obvious so quickly that the experiment was terminated.

Since the beginning of last year, 2000 Finns are getting money from the government each month – and they are not expected to do anything in return. The participants, aged 25–58, are all unemployed, and were selected at random by Kela, Finland’s social-security institution.

Instead of unemployment benefits, the participants now receive €560, or $690, per month, tax free. Should they find a job during the two-year trial, they still get to keep the money.

While the project is praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, back in Finland, decision makers are quietly pulling the brakes, making a U-turn that is taking the project in a whole new direction. …

The initial plan was for the experiment to be expanded in early 2018 to include workers as well as non-workers early in 2018, but that did not happen – to the disappointment of researchers at Kela. Without workers in the project, researchers are unable to study whether basic income would allow people to make new career moves, or enter training or education. …

The grim future of a basic income world:

The vision of a mass of people kept alive at a “basic” level (inevitably to be described as “impoverished” and unacceptable for a decent human being) is an inverted form of feudalism. The serfs are kept alive at a basic level, not through toil in the fields, but through their utility to serve as a voting bloc to legitimize rule by the overlords. Their dependents, who can’t or who refuse to do useful work for others, will vote for their stooges to keep the checks coming. Hey, it beats work! Meanwhile, the productive classes – especially the petty entrepreneurs (aka, bourgeoisie) – are tolerated as a politically powerless faction to be taxed to pay for the subsidies to the idle. …

They are going to have to try Oakland and Stockton, because Finland now refuses to be their test case. Idleness is not a path to happiness, whether it is welfare recipients or the idle children of inherited wealth. We are homo faber – our human nature is to act upon our environment to improve our lives, and has been since the dawn of history. When we don’t act that way, trouble ensues.

Didn’t the Australian Green’s Richard di Natale recently suggest something similar – basic income with no requirement to work?

hat-tip Stephen Harper

Rainbows good, skulls bad? Australian Army seems to be cool with PC symbols only

Rainbows good, skulls bad? Australian Army seems to be cool with PC symbols only. By The Australian.

You can wear this in the Australian Army. The force’s official website:

The Army indigenous Lapel Pin was designed in 2011 to promote the Army’s commitment to indigenous Australians and celebrate the long and proud history of indigenous service in the Army.

And you can add a rainbow if you like. LGBTI defence group DEFGLIS’s online store:

The Official Australian Army LGBTI Pride Pin released by Army headquarters. On the Army Pride Lapel Pin, the colours of the Rainbow Flag proudly surround the Army’s Rising Sun. Together these elements are symbolic of the Army as an inclusive organisation that respects diversity and supports LGBTI soldiers and ­officers.

But those skulls and bones have got to go. New Defence chief Angus Campbell’s edict, April 17:

… symbology/iconography: for example the pirate skull and crossbones (maritime outlaws and murderers), the Phantom or Punisher symbols (vigilantes), Spartans (extreme militarism) or the Grim Reaper (bringer of death) … I ask that you take immediate action to explain and remove such symbology/iconography …

Never mind that soldiers have used death symbols for decades. Former sergeant Justin Huggett in The Australian, yesterday:

I’ve had Vietnam veterans tell me about the emblems … This is a tradition that’s been around for years. They are going to be lost to history.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive? By Michael Shellenberger.

Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically. …

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining. …

By reporting on the declining costs of solar panels and wind turbines but not on how they increase electricity prices, journalists are — intentionally or unintentionally — misleading policymakers and the public about those two technologies. …

This is a problem of bias, not just energy illiteracy. Normally skeptical journalists routinely give renewables a pass. The reason isn’t because they don’t know how to report critically on energy — they do regularly when it comes to non-renewable energy sources — but rather because they don’t want to. …

California:

The Los Angeles Times last year reported that California’s electricity prices were rising, but failed to connect the price rise to renewables, provoking a sharp rebuttal from UC Berkeley economist James Bushnell.

“The story of how California’s electric system got to its current state is a long and gory one,” Bushnell wrote, but “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.”

Australia:

Germany 2018: Jews urged not to wear traditional skullcaps after attacks

Germany 2018: Jews urged not to wear traditional skullcaps after attacks, by the BBC.

The leader of Germany’s Jewish community has advised Jews to avoid wearing traditional skullcaps (kippahs) following anti-Semitic attacks.

Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Berlin public radio that Jews should exercise caution in big cities. …

Germany’s Jewish population has grown rapidly since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Before 1989, the population was below 30,000 but an influx of Jews, mainly from the former Soviet Union, has raised the number to more than 200,000.

Merkel’s mistake was merely the biggest in 30+ years of European immigration policy based on fantasies.

Facebook Spent More on Swamp Lobbyists in 1Q than Ever Before

Facebook Spent More on Swamp Lobbyists in 1Q than Ever Before, by Tony Lee.

Facebook spent more than “$3.3 million to steer lawmakers on privacy, security, online advertising and transparency efforts, among other issues.” …

After the 2012 election, Facebook went on a spending spree in D.C., amassing a bipartisan group of Swamp denizens to help Zuckerberg’s FWD.us political group push for amnesty legislation and massive increases in H-1b visas for technology companies.

$13m per year. Facebook’s voice is louder than yours.

Citizens quitting migrant hotspots, ABS figures show

Citizens quitting migrant hotspots, ABS figures show, by Rick Morton.

The council areas with some of the highest rates of overseas ­migration are the same locations where more people are leaving to live elsewhere in the country, ­according to an analysis of new population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

For the first time in its history, the ABS has been able to break down population estimates by both net overseas and internal ­migration and natural increases, revealing a portrait of a nation where the pressures of migrant ­intakes have been linked to residents leaving.

I’m wearing my shocked face again.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Washington report floats US nuclear attack subs and warships in Perth

Washington report floats US nuclear attack subs and warships in Perth, by Cameron Stewart.

US nuclear attack submarines and navy warships should be based in Perth in response to China’s growing power projection into the Indo-Pacific, a new US report warns.

The report says Australia and its allies must “spotlight and push back” against China’s stepped-up efforts to project power and build military infrastructure in the region. Otherwise, it warns, Beijing’s behaviour may “upturn longstanding assumptions about the Indo-Pacific region remaining free and open”.

If nuclear subs are so dangerous to host, as I’m sure our Greenies will say, how come the US hosts its subs in its own cities?

hat-tip Stephen Neil