Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Our own fake news

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  • Russell Brown,

    Brilliant.

    I tweeted the story and the very first engagement with it was someone who didn't read the post (or apparently see the #fakenews tag) but shared it on the basis of the tweeted words "John Key was forced to resign after being caught giving $13.7 in taxpayer money to the Clinton Foundation!"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22029 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, also: I added the "m" to "$13.7m" that was missing in the YourNewsWire story, so it made sense.

    I guess I'm now complicit too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22029 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Can you please add a 'laugh' emoji to the response options?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Now you'll be getting quoted as a "credible source, journalist Russell Brown" on the fake news leads.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 421 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    remonstrating with people who believe

    There's probably been studies done about it Im sure.
    getting people to see the error of their ways or changing their mind by providing good counter arguments, facts even, is near impossible.
    Im beginning to think this modern iteration of this age old problem is getting to be an insurmountable obstacle.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1623 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to andin,

    There’s probably been studies done about it Im sure.
    getting people to see the error of their ways or changing their mind by providing good counter arguments, facts even, is near impossible.

    Yeah, it’s pretty well studied. But even more than being hard to change minds, it can often serve to actually reinforce belief in the original misinformation. This has been labeled the Backfire Effect.

    It’s amazingly visible with Trump stuff at the moment. Supporters see media stories about Trump as evidence that their belief in a compromised mainstream media is real. The more the media pushes, the more they are convinced that it’s a battle.

    When conspiracy theorists are confronted with facts that contradict their ideas they classify it a government controlled disinformation, and the fact that the government is trying so hard to convince they world there’s no conspiracy is evidence that they are clearly onto something.

    It’s fucking amazing!

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 306 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Attachment

    Here is a some recent research on the topic

    "A study of more than half a million tweets, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that morally outraged tweets tend to be widely retweeted within their political spheres—but rarely escape their bubbles."

    From One graph shows how morally outraged tweets stay within their political bubble

    "Although there’s some interaction between the two clusters, red and blue largely remain separate. Even the most moral or emotional words, it seems, aren’t powerful enough to prompt a retweet from across the aisle."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 321 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It can be tricky. Sometimes on Facebook threads I do wade in with citations. It likely won't convince the person spouting the crazy, but it does tend to help people wondering if this stuff can be true.

    I'm actually getting quite worried about the sheer scale of the delusions in 2017. I was asked by someone to look at the FB page of a person who seems to have flipped from the standard pro-Assad-pro-Putin stuff to posting neo-Nazi screeds. I've seen that before, but not quite that starkly.

    I'm literally trying to work out whether someone needs to know about what this clearly unwell person is saying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22029 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, it's a weird time. People seem to take small incremental steps from one slightly fringe viewpoint into completely batty town. There's so much "information" out there for people to take in.

    It starts from a comfortable place ("governments are largely controlled by corporations") and just builds a little bit more ("the people are the top are members of a secret society") and a bit more ("that society meets in a secret wooded enclave") and more ("where they sacrifice virgins") and more ("and kidnap children for pedophile sex rings") and then takes the big important just ("and they're all JEWS!")

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 306 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    and then takes the big important just (“and they’re all JEWS!”)

    This person has gone from quoting Pilger to quoting Hitler.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22029 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It’s amazingly visible with Trump stuff at the moment. Supporters see media stories about Trump as evidence that their belief in a compromised mainstream media is real. The more the media pushes, the more they are convinced that it’s a battle.

    When conspiracy theorists are confronted with facts that contradict their ideas they classify it a government controlled disinformation, and the fact that the government is trying so hard to convince they world there’s no conspiracy is evidence that they are clearly onto something.

    It’s fucking amazing!

    Case in point: Trump's insistence the Central Park 5 should have been executed, even after they were acquitted and another man found guilty; and the Obama birther-ism.

    If Trump does actually get impeached, odds are that it'll be a stab-in-the-back myth to his loyalists. What would be the Trumpist equivalent of invading Poland or annexing the Sudeten Mountains?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5262 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I just had this joke shared with me:

    Two Trump supporters are on their way to a rally when they get into a car accident and die. Being believers, they both go to Heaven and meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. One says to the other, "So, are you going to ask him?" "Ask him what?" replies the other. "You know, about him." "No, you ask him." "Fine."

    "Saint Peter," he says, "Where was Barack Obama born?" The venerable saint replies, "President Barack Obama was born in the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, in Honolulu, Hawaii."

    The Trump supporter turns to his friend and whispers, "This thing goes even deeper than we thought!"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2526 posts Report Reply

  • R A Hurley, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    It seems that some new research has failed to replicate the presence of any significant Backfire Effect. I find this both reassuring and terrifying, and in about equal measure. Reassuring in the sense that there likely isn't some kind of massively flawed heuristic evolved right into the brain of every single human being. Terrifying in the sense that said flaw can no longer be used to rationalise away the behaviour of people who resist any attempt to be disabused of their nonsense.

    Trump supporters know Trump lies. They just don’t care.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    The fringes may be immune to reason, but there's a more serious problem when their rantings are given air time in mainstream media. For example, I'm one of those insomniacs awake at 5 a.m., and I'll flick on the radio. At that hour, the two commercial "news" outlets (ZB and Live) are happy - even desperate - to get feedback, and seem to have little interest in editing before broadcasting. So when Bruce from Browns Bay* sends in his Putin-loving fact-free text, it gets read out, with a frankly pathetic "thank you" from the host. Why? Because they can. Not because they care. And that is on them. If they don't know the difference between censorship and basic professional standards, they really are a big part of the problem.


    * may not actually be from Browns Bay, alliteration is fake news

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1100 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to simon g,

    * may not actually be from Browns Bay, alliteration is fake news

    Or poetic licence?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 789 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to simon g,

    at 5 a.m., and I’ll flick on the radio.

    There's what happens at 5am, and there's what gets published or broadcast at "mainstream" hours. E.g. "Car crash, foreign driver involved." Not fake news, but a deliberate choice of facts presented, and a point on the spectrum from actual news presented honestly to just plain fiction. Choices of which facts to present and how to present them are small, important steps that can take the public either towards better informed or just a short ways down the slope towards fake news, and these choices also affect the media's credibility in the public eye. I fear that when the media (all too often) choose the emotive, manipulative, clickbait presentation of news, they make it easier for fake news to flourish.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2375 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to R A Hurley,

    However, as reported on This American Life, one study, purporting to demonstrate a way of counteracting the backfire effect, had to be retracted when it emerged that the survey results had been fabricated.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sometimes on Facebook threads I do wade in with citations. It likely won't convince the person spouting the crazy, but it does tend to help people wondering if this stuff can be true.

    Yeah, this is why I replied to an actual friend of mine on FB sharing a piece asserting that Muslim families in Canada were trying to get pork banned from schools. It was obvious bullshit, and when I googled the name of the town it was supposed to have happened in, autocomplete provided "pork school Snopes".

    So I linked to the refutation (not only was it a lie, it was a lie originally told about Belgium), because a) the dude is not an actual idiot, and b) other people were going to see it, and I wanted them to see the challenge as well.

    I swear he's not an idiot. We used to go out. But he ARGUED. People should try to fit into the cultures they choose to move to, apparently. I don't like the world any more.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4592 posts Report Reply

  • R A Hurley, in reply to linger,

    Even if that study were legitimate, it would still be possible to argue that their success in convincing people could be explained by the backfire effect being either non-existent or much weaker than previously thought. After all, it's not difficult to counteract something that doesn't exist.

    But, given that the study was fabricated, its existence manages to say even less than that about the potential existence of a backfire effect. They might as well have claimed to have found evidence that Lynx body spray prevents manticore attacks. All gathered evidence might technically support that hypothesis, but the simpler explanation would be just that there's no such thing as manticores...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to R A Hurley,

    Trump supporters know Trump lies. They just don’t care.

    Or to put it another way: "If I can't have my whitebread 1950s America, then let it burn!"

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5262 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to R A Hurley,

    My point is that it is dangerous to rely on "one study says..." (especially if that study seems to support something surprising) rather than considering the balance of available evidence.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yeah, this is why I replied to an actual friend of mine on FB sharing a piece asserting that Muslim families in Canada were trying to get pork banned from schools. It was obvious bullshit, and when I googled the name of the town it was supposed to have happened in, autocomplete provided “pork school Snopes”.

    I know you and I might just have god bullshit sensors, but it’s incredible how often the bullshit-debunking-autocomplete happens. A factual perspective generally doesn’t lie far from anyone’s reach, but people don’t reach.

    I swear he’s not an idiot. We used to go out. But he ARGUED. People should try to fit into the cultures they choose to move to, apparently. I don’t like the world any more.

    I had that last night. I was, like look, I’ve shown you the actual story, I’ve noted the role of an amoral right-wing lobby group in propagating the falsehood, why are you still arguing as if I haven’t?

    I didn’t say that, of course.

    The other page, the account of the Pilger-to-Hitler person, was genuinely unnerving. Last time it was someone not bothered when I pointed out they were sharing hideous neo-Nazi cartoons – this time, full Hitlter. And they were both women who seemed to consider themselves sort of greenie-lefty. Buying the Assad-Putin narrative can lead to to really bad places.

    And they all namecheck fucking Pilger. That guy has a lot to answer for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22029 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This person has gone from quoting Pilger to quoting Hitler.

    aha! the 'G-Philtre' - misery loves company...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7321 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    coupla tangentially linked links :

    How NZ's growing alt-right movement plans to influence the election

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11888810
    and

    Raybon Kan: Maybe all news is fake, perception is all

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11889633

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7321 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Reason and ridicule may work better than empathy in stopping such beliefs

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5061726/

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1441 posts Report Reply

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