Skepticism now, Skepticism tomorrow, Skepticism forever

Not expecting to paraphrase George Wallace, a person about as far me politically or as a humanist as one can be.  Yet, recent events are a reminder that we must be eternally skeptical. We need to be especially skeptical of the mainstream media as well as other sources. <here> <here>

Today we add the most recent flurry about the “21 states hacked by Russia before the 2016 election”, and more.  The story continues to fall apart, bit by bit. Yet, we suspect the truth is far from common knowledge:

  • There is no solid evidence available to the public and experts to verify
  • Its not necessarily Russia but people who may be Russian
  • Two years ago the context would have been fears of China, so then many hacks were allegedly Chinese
  • At most one state had data changed, at most otherwise it was attempting to find vulnerabilities — that occurs multiple times a day to almost every server from multiple individuals and groups.
  • The latest is that, so far, two of the states were in correctly included. Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?  <read>  As we commented on the link:

Our skepticism was justified, it would be even if the story proved true.

I am not a fan of the Russian government system, we should be concerned about China, Russia, and our own actions. Yet, I often read and learn from RT articles.  I find them biased toward publishing factual articles supporting their point of view, yet no more so than FOX, CNN, MSNBC or many other players in the U.S. media.  Like Al Jazeera, RT is journalism and largely accurate, often covering important stories not available elsewhere.  RT and Al Jazerra are hardly Radio Free Europe or Tokyo Rose.  The U.S. is far from innocent when it comes to manipulating elections.  Right now I am in the middle of reading “In the Shadows of the 20th Century”  Here is a quote:

According to a compilation at Carnegie Mellon University, between 1946 and 2000 the rival superpowers intervened in 117 elections, or 11 percent of all the competitive national-level contests held worldwide, via campaign cash and media disinformation.  Significantly, the United States was responsible for eighty-one of these attempts (70 percent of the total) – including eight instances in Italy, five in Japan, and several in Chile and Nicaragua stiffened by CIA paramilitary action.

Now an Intercept story by Kim Zetter reviewing a report by Kaspersky Lab (another company recently trashed because it is Russian) Masquerading Hackers Are Forcing a Rethink of How Attacks Are Traced <read>

The title pretty much says it all.  Attribution is difficult, yet often possible.

We add yes, but without trusted, multiple, third-parties reviewing the evidence and, even better, generating the evidence independently there is little basis for blind trust, while strong skepticism is justified – especially if the claims match the bias and agenda of the source.

 

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