Show Discussion Suggestion: Fake News

I’d love to hear you guys discuss the topic of fake news. Some items to discuss could include:

  • It’s impact on the elections in the United States
  • Impact on Western culture in general (I say Western because, well, you guys can speak with more authority about western culture, but probably not Eastern, Mideast, etc.)
  • How can fake news be addressed, if at all? Is it just one cost in having freedom of speech/expression?
  • Social networking obviously aids in its dissemination, but can we even rely on social networking organizations to stop address it, especially in light of one of Reddit’s admins editing comments directed to him?

Some interesting links for some reading (tinyurls because of new user limit):

Lest I not try to contribute something of my own thoughts: I’m kind of befuddled with the whole topic.

It seems like ‘fake news’ is coming from all different directions, and what’s worse is that it seems like there’s quite the fertile audience willing to accept it all without question, which is an audience that is more than willing to vote. When there’s external and internal actors spreading it, how the hell do you tackle it? Sure, I could say Facebook and Google need to clamp down, but if they clamp down on that, they set a precedent (or maintain one) that you can limit freedom of expression/speech.

Then you have sites like Reddit, which, like Facebook, depend communities to interact with the content, but it seems like it’s easier for a mob to be loud and interact with fake news, generating a ton of traffic and pushing search algorithms towards those loud subreddits. For example, /r/politics is, and has been absolutely dominated by anti-Trump links and conversations; conversely, /r/the_donald dominates search results for certain topics (just try doing a search of spez right now on reddit). On Facebook, the links I posted above describe the process of spreading fake news way better than I can.

I guess it seems like the ability to have productive, truthful dialogue about topics in the general public is in question, now, more than ever. Trust in most institutions and national organizations is crumbling depending on the group you’re a part of.

I feel like the distrust isn’t going away. It’s going to get worse. But maybe there’s a way we can have news, facts, and information be accurate without the need of trusting institutions, much like (forgive my analogy) cryptocurrency transactions don’t rely on trust but instead leverage the ability of the information to have some kind of hash check to verify it’s reliability.

Anyways, apologies for the novel. If you got this far, thanks for your time, but I really think this is a rich topic for the Bad Voltage guys to discuss. is relevant here, too…

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Thanks for the link. I haven’t seen this yet.

Sounds like an excellent topic for the show. A lot of people get most of their news now from the internet and as such are often self selecting their news providers as almost exclusively people who think like them. As such this is a real problem.

Thought it would be important to post updates to the above stories, if I come across them.

For instance, The Intercept has a story about the Washington Post fake news story I posted above and argues the Post story is “is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics.”

And my head continues to spin about this topic.

The problem with fake news is not with the news, it’s with credulous readers. Trying to eliminate falsehoods from the Internet is like trying to bail out the sea.

I also think it’s part of a larger story about how the Democrats don’t want to face up to the fact that they managed to choose the only possible candidate who could lose to Trump. There’s a massive effort to find something else to blame, from Sanders voters to Stein voters to fake news to the electoral college to, well, anything really, as long as it’s not Clinton, or the Democrats’ tactics, or the fact that they rigged the primary, or…

Agreed, I live in the UK, If I choose to get my news from the Guardian (and i usually do) or the Telegraph I will get a different slant on the news but I don’t believe ether of these publications would knowingly state something as a fact that they knew to be untrue

There are other publications however in which I have less faith - some, particularly on the internet, where to say I had zero faith would be over generate.

We need to question what we are told and to what extent we trust the individual or organisation that is telling us.

It’s far too easy to surround your self in a bubble of like minded thinkers and so never have your beliefs challenged. My Father like me was a life long socialist and a member of the Labour party in the UK. He chose to read a right leaning news paper,The Express. however because he often did not agree with it’s conclusions and he wanted to understand the arguments we were fighting against.

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Very, very disappointing with the Washington Post in all this.

Someone say somthing about head-spinning ?

Nah, that’s ZedNet:

Slashdot is dispatching el delegation.

The problem is that you have the left blaming the right, and the right blaming the left. I’m sure there is some one both sides of the aisle. And in this volatile environment where some would rather scratch the other side’s eyes out than look at them, there is a lot of tension. However, in my experience, the mainstream media is as guilty as the conservative outlets they are accusing, either by omission or commission. For instance, during the campaign, CNN on more than one occasion edited Donald Trump’s tweets and comments to bias the discussion (e.g. here and here). There are other examples on both sides of trying to spin the news to affect the election, but I don’t think that the Russians were involved.

The news media and polling outlets did more than enough. I don’t have any links, but if you look at the rallies, where, for instance in Florida, Hillary had a rally that attracted 250-ish people, while Trump attracted something like 20,000. Kaine attracted 30 people while Pence got over 1000. But at the same time, the polls showed that Clinton had a 10+ point lead on Trump. And the proof was in the pudding, as Trump won. And there were not only things reported about Trump, but there are many things that were not reported about Clinton. The mainstream media is still not reporting on things with the Clinton Foundation (like the fact that Chelsea allegedly used money from the Foundation to pay for her wedding, which is illegal).

And it is not just about the recent election. They spin and shape the news, for instance, “global warming.” According to a recent report, the global temperature has dropped by 1 degree C since mid-year, and another one says that the Antarctic ice sheet is no smaller than it was 100 years ago based on the logs of the Scott and Shackleton expeditions. Full disclosure, my opinion on global warming is that it is a cyclical occurrence, and has very little to do with being man-made. This is, IMHO, because a) a single volcanic eruption releases more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the US. Plus the solar cycle (which peaked in 1992), caused a lot of the warming. There was a similar spike in temperatures on Mars, but the MSM didn’t report that.

Another area is the Ohio State University attack or any of the “mass shootings” that have occurred. The media’s response is along a specific anti-gun narrative. For instance, the media reported that the OSU situation was an “active shooter” situation, and a number of people, including Tim Kaine, tweeted about needing gun control. And another fact that is never reported is that 92% of all mass shooting since 2009 occurred in “gun free” zones. They don’t report things that don’t fit the anti-gun narrative. Like this…or this…or this.

So I think that there is a lot of “fake news,” either by commission or omission by the mainstream media, mostly things that don’t fit the narrative don’t get reported. In the case of Samantha Bee, she is a liberal comedienne, similar to Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert. They use humor as a way to push their agenda.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion, based on my observations.

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Once @Lifehacker tweets about it - shit just got real.

That site (which appears to be massively anti-climate change) sources a Daily Mail article which cites zero sources, other than “the Nasa home page”. The NASA article they are probably trying to refer to, but daren’t link to, is this:

which basically says the oceans have absorbed some of the heat, thus presenting a slowdown of temperature increase on land and in the atmosphere.

All this proves is that Antarctic sea ice is less susceptible to climate change effects than Arctic sea ice, which has reduced dramatically.

Please don’t take this personally, but I’ll accept the scientific findings of the 28 year old IPCC, which has determined a 95% probability that global warming is due to man-made influence, over one person’s opinion.

Not touching this with a bargepole.

Yes, Samantha Bee is a comedian, but her comedy is informed by events and truths. Political comedy needs to be grounded in reality to have an effect. I agree, an agenda is being pushed, but what’s wrong with an agenda that’s based on morality and fairness, rather than the ugliness of what’s happening in the US, the UK, France, etc. with regards to the swing towards right-wing nationalism and “post-facts”?

And that’s part of the problem.


According to the Book of Knowledge regarding the IPCC, “The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. The IPCC bases its assessment on the published literature, which includes peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources.”

Already, there have been complaints made regarding these peer-reviewed panels that are clearly biased towards opinions regarding climate change. The complaints have been that these panels will publish very little literature that does not conform to their opinions.

Why do I emphasize opinions? Because of the clear biases in this. Climate change has, unfortunately, been relegated to pseudo-science as far as I’m concerned. Not that I think that the atmosphere hasn’t been greatly affected by man’s activities, but that, because of this clear bias, real science has been thrown out the window. Therefore, any and all “findings,” from both sides of the issue, are suspect. If this was real science, then conflicting views and research would be welcomed in order to come with a well researched consensus. Instead, any dissenting voice and research, from the beginning of what has become a movement, is shouted down and is not worthy of consideration.

Because of this clear bias, Climate change has become, to be frank, as scam. It is being used as a way to manipulate people, mostly through emotional pressures, to promote a “climate economy.” If there was not any opportunity to make lots of money using this, Climate change would have just been a small blip on the media radar and the consciousness of the public, probably to the detriment of mankind.

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NASA: Climate change: How do we know?

Again, you are assuming that the data is credible, and perhaps it is! Can you be confident, truly confident, when there is a clear assertion of effort to silence all dissenting voices? I am not saying that the data is false, although I do reserve judgement there when, over the years, there has been cases of data manipulation (no I do not have sources, I have read much over the years, much in print, so finding the sources I have read would take too much time for me, so take it as you like. I don’t expect that statement to be taken seriously without sources. So I don’t mind doubts.) What I am saying is that there is no reason to take this seriously as a science. And I do sincerely wish that it was otherwise. Maybe if enough people were to insist it be treated scientifically, things would change.

Thanks for the sources. (at least you can provide some :smile:) But, then, The Guardian isn’t something I would consider unbiased or neutral. But, I still appreciate sources. And the complaints of professionals with critical views, (not just parroting voices), that most critical papers are rejected by peer-review boards, are, in my opinion, suspect from where their funding comes. But, I cannot discount that their papers, for the most part, are rejected because of the bias of the boards.

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