“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Recent events have demonstrated that we are still unable as a society, to cope with the growing pains of a relatively new technological advance and its unintended side effects. Often times when a new invention changes the world, there is a period of time when we have to learn how to use it properly. A period in which, we inevitably make all the mistakes, that prompt the modifications, that make said technologies safer and more efficient.
In what is beginning to look like the “post-truth era”, when we have so much information available to us, the potential for the dark powers to manipulate and mislead the general public is never been greater.
THE FAKE NEWS SYNDROME
After the elections, Paul Horner confessed that he flooded social media with fake news, that he claims might had altered the average voters perception of reality, he said, “I think Trump is in the White House because of me”. This is a bold statement, but not totally unsubstantiated if you consider how many times his bogus “news” were re-posted and re-tweeted. He goes on to say. “Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Fake news websites publish hoaxes and fraudulent misinformation to drive web traffic inflamed by social media. These sites are different from news satire, because they intend to mislead and profit from readers believing the stories to be true. Impacts from this phenomenon have affected multiple countries including: Germany, Sweden, Indonesia and the Philippines, and most recently royally screwing the pooch for Great Britain, Italy and the United States. Fraudulent news that include false propaganda, predominantly originate from the countries of Russia, Macedonia, Romania, and yes a lot of it from the U.S.
How important has fact-checking become, you ask? Well, Swedish newspaper The Local described the proliferation of fake news on the Internet as a form of psychological warfare. Agence France-Presse a noted media analyst group, see the problem as “a threat to democracy itself. The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs called attention to the problem in 2016, when it passed a resolution warning of the use by Russia of tools including: “pseudo-news agencies” and “internet trolls”, as forms of propaganda and disinformation in an attempt to lessen democratic values.
In addition to the damage expressed here by “fake news, Edgar Madison Welch, a 28 year old moron, from Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the front door of Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee an fired. Luckily, this idiot never learned to aim accurately and everyone was able to flee unharmed. This horrid event was triggered by a fake post claiming that “a Washington pizzeria was the home of a child sex abuse ring, that include people like Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief John Podesta”. Those reports are entirely baseless and there is no actual evidence that the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant is anything but a popular pizza place. The fact that fake news are entirely untrue, doesn’t matter to the thousands of online conspiracy theorists and fringe trolls, including the unscrupulous racist idiots at Breitbart and Subreddit, who along with other idiots like “Sasquatch hunter” Alex Jones, have effectively promoted the spread of this and other false rumors. The eventual debunking of this hateful “gossip”, did not matter to the man who drove all the way from North Carolina, and walked into the restaurant late at night brandishing a firearm, hoping to, in his words “self-investigate”. Luckily this time no one got hurt, and this dumbass just wasted a bunch of fuel and some bullets, and now he is busted, this being the obvious wrapping up, of when idiots “self-investigate” instead of “fact-check”.
- the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.
Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief, from opinion.
Will Rahn a political correspondent for CBS News Digital, explains how PropOrNot, a group of non-aligned researchers have discovered, that many American online news outlets are actually and perhaps unwittingly, working as allies of Russian intelligence. He goes on to say that the reason why it is so difficult to debunk all these conspiracies created by fake news outlets is that in the current climate, the established journalist are struggling to bear the banner of credibility among the brainwashed masses who follow hateful and twisted individuals like Alex Jones and Steve Bannon. To make matters worse, now all these conspiracy idiots are endorsed by a Teflon Clown in the White House.
What we are now witnessing, is just the culmination of a project that started years ago in the basement laboratory, of the Fox News research kitchen. Roger Ailes as the mad scientist and all his minions, with the exception of Megyn Kelly for whom my jury is still out, and who has without a doubt, the role of Marilyn Munster of making the rest of the idiot monsters seem more palatable. At least she had the girl cojones, to call Trump on his misogynous ways, (all this before the pussy grabbing incident). I’ll admit that I have not heard her say anything completely mindless, yet, but then again, I don’t watch her much anyway, but as far as the rest are concerned, I feel they all have been unswerving in their goal to feed the average consumer with vast amounts of misinformation and falsehoods. They do this without any fear of reprisal, and using the first amendment as a shield, they continue filling the air with all forms of fake charts and bogus statistics. All part of their project, of the dummying down of America. The wolves like the lambs, nice and tender…and dumb.
We’re in big trouble when so many people are getting their “science facts” at Trump rallies, instead of getting them from actual scientist, and instead of getting their news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or The Washington Post, they would rather get them from Fox, or even worse Breitbart. (Notice I did not call them “news”, because they are not).
NO EASY SOLUTIONS, BUT…
For the benefit of humanity in general, dramatic changes have to be made on the public’s paradigm on how we process all that information, and how it is distributed. We need to take certain steps to prevent the indiscriminate propagation of insidious and damaging information, that has no purpose other than to deceive, and when it’s found, contain it like a virus. There has to be a difference between having the right to speak your mind, and the right to spread unfounded “gossip” that is eroding at our culture.
- If venturing a plan to affect some change may be daunting, we could at least start by making all news outlets accountable for reporting any fabricated news, especially if that information has any form of political bias, at least until they’ve been properly fact-checked and verified. In the cases where the prompt release of information is crucial, thereby making the information in question somewhat unreliable this must be made clear to their public, and properly followed through.
- The speeches of politicians running for, or currently in office, have to be fact checked. If any inconsistencies with the truth surface during or later on, these should be rectified and made clear to the general public. Politicians who show no regard for the truth, should be exposed by the media and publicly shamed by the masses. I am pretty sure that with the exception of the fringe groups, the majority of people, whether left or right, want the truth, the real truth. There are many versions to any story, and political opinions vary, but there are certain facts that need to be honored. If a politician, or any of his staffers blatantly, and with malice of thought propagates lies either by using false statistics, or any other means to garner their support, or further their agendas, this has to be seen as a form of perjury, and should be punished.
- Social media has to be regulated, without infringing on the rights of freedom of speech. The public itself can contribute to monitor the integrity of social media by reporting any post they suspect to be bogus. This could be done the same way we report bullying, trolling and other forms of online abuse, the public in general can report a fake post for verification, if it turns out to be apocryphal, it should be removed immediately, and the people who disseminated it, be set straight and warned, as well as circulating a massive posting informing of the action taken, and why it was taken.
I would like to see more people guided by facts rather than opinions. Every asshole has an opinion, but facts are learned and earned, sometimes the hard way. Epistemology is a fancy way of saying that although there are many opinions, there is one version which is based on investigation, and that makes the difference between a fact, and an opinion.
WOLVES LIKE THEIR SHEEP NICE AND TENDER
In the middle ages the powers that be, restricted the flow of knowledge and information in an effort to keep control of the masses and therefore power. Understanding that nowadays with the advent of the internet, they cannot restrict the access of information without appearing totalitarian, so they flood the internet with contradicting information in order to keep the lines between true and false blurrier than ever as a way to keep the average citizen dazed and confused.
We need to learn to use the internet for our advantage, if not, civilization itself is at risk of becoming progressively more ignorant. That idiot that shot a Comet pizza place is only the beginning, but who knows, since Donald Trump has expressed, in more than one occasion, his intentions of “shutting that internet up somehow”, this could take care of the problem for us. He said this after the Orlando massacre, supposedly to prevent groups like ISIS, from being able to inspire the disenfranchised youth into committing acts of terrorism. At other times he’s mentioned how he plans to open libel laws to sue the media, maybe to prevent the treasure trove of unflattering pictures of him from reaching the public, (good luck with that). But from there is just a small jump into fully censoring the media. He would of course follow Putin’s example and have his state run Trump TV Network, where he could clumsily read from a teleprompter about how he knows the best words, and how he knows more science that Stephen Hawking, about how global warming is a hoax designed to affect the U.S. economy. When we know, what he means is that he is worried that it will take money from him, and his rich associates. Oh, he would love a scenario where he could keep us more stupid and uninformed than we already are. My question is, if he “shuts the internet up somehow”, how the hell is he going continue to post his dumb-ass Tweets at 3 am.
You have to wonder at the scope to the damage to the credibility of the mainstream media by conspiracy theory jocks, if you consider that people like retired General Michael Flynn, who tweeted: “U decide – NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc…. MUST READ!”. This has been admittedly disproved by all sides, and “made right” by firing Gen. Flynn’s son. Yes, the son had take the bullet, so that his asshole dad, could go on to be considered by Trump to be head of the National Security Agency. I am worried, not only that a General of the United States of America, with a chance of becoming head the NSA can spread this kind of bullshit, either by stupidity or even worse by knowingly siding with this obviously dark side of American politics.
A lot can be said of the power of systematic misdirection, Hitler used it brilliantly to hide a lot of his horrible truths from the average German. Also let’s not forget how Nigel Farage plastered London buses with inflated numbers and bogus ciphers. There were a lot of people that did not even know what the EU meant, and still voted to leave, solely because they were scared by a very effective misinformation campaign. We still don’t know the real extent of this mess yet.
I’m hopeful that the same way that we’ve learned to adapt to all new technologies, as a group we have the intelligence and moral fortitude to make the necessary changes to ensure that this wonderful technology, literally gifted by Tim Berners-Lee, now Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, does not end up being used against the moral majority, by the greedy bastards that control and manipulate information for power.
If the implementation of some measures seem too complicated, or costly, I will remind you of a rhetorical example; in the city of New Orleans, for years, engineers insisted that a better containment wall was needed to hold the Mississippi and protect the below the sea level city if the weather got rough. The money people, argued that it would be ridiculously expensive, and when they looked out the window and saw that it was nice and sunny, they said no. A few years later came Katrina, to remind everybody, that it can always get even more “ridiculously” expensive.