Hot Air: The Bunco Squad

Dig this tremendous piece on fake news sites (which, terrifyingly, are taken as gospel by a way-too-huge percentage of the populace), emotions driving political discourse on social media, and Wikipedia’s pretty damned good rep as a source for info.

Here are some pull quotes from it:

…[A]ccording to Buzzfeed’s numerical analysis of traffic data, fake news sites often attracted more readers than real news during the election.

[MG Note: If you click on the Buzzfeed link and really read the spreadsheet, you’ll never again blissfully entrust democracy in the hands of the people. I know I don’t.]

When you get started with Wikipedia [as a volunteer editor], it’s a crash course in library science and intellectual property law.

[H]ow many people on Facebook just read a headline and share it, and don’t do any research whatsoever? Or they don’t even read a headline, and it’s just a .gif or .jpg? Facebook is not a place for news, but it functionally is, and that is bad.

Coming to something with critical thinking is important.

Oh, and BTW, for all you folks on my side of the fence: Don’t wrench your elbow patting yourself on the back — people on the Left are just as prone to emotionalism and credulity as L’il Duce‘s fanboys and -girls are. Book it.

Our Bullshit

Melissa “Mish” Zimdars, assoc. prof. of communications and media at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, became a soc. med. superstar earlier this month when her list of fake, misleading “news” sites went viral. She told USA Today why she began compiling the list:

One of the main impetuses… was someone telling me when you Google popular vote counts, the first Google News item that pops up is “70news.wordpress.com” which is a fake website saying that Hillary Clinton lost the popular vote. I was like, “Oh my gosh.”

We live in a clickbait world, babies. If someone posts a specious item of gossip or some screaming headline that reinforces your preconceived notion about the candidate you adore/despise, you’re going to fall for it. That is if you’re the average American voter. Further evidence you should do everything in your power to avoid being average.

melissa1

Zimdars

Zimdars has posted a Google Doc entitled “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News Sources’.” In it, she explains how to distinguish these internet cyanide capsules from real news sources. One bit of advice she offers: “If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY [her caps] it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.”

I notice a lot of people on soc. med. pledging to stay away from Facebook et al for a few days because they can’t take being enraged all the time. Real life events are enough to turn the most saintly soul bitter and dyspeptic. Why subject yourself to being manipulated emotionally by money-grubbing reprobates?

Critical thinking, skepticism, disciplined research, and a healthy dose of cynicism re: the hearts of your fellow wo/men are vital prerequisites for surviving in this post-factual climate. Somehow, though, we need to believe Hillary Clinton is dishonest or even a murderer, eating certain foods can cure cancer, the US and Saudi Arabia worked together to make the 9/11 attacks happen, all scientists are on the under-the-table payroll of big corporations, municipal water fluoridation is a government plot to keep us docile, drug companies routinely sabotage new breakthroughs in pharmacology…, hell, the list goes on seemingly forever.

It’s as though we’re bored with real life and wish for it to resemble countless plots of poorly-written thrillers.

In any case, here are some Left-leaning websites that are either unreliable as news sources or flat-out fiction, as compiled by Prof. Zimdars and her assistants:

I figure a number of Pencillistas regularly visit one or more of these sites. My advice: Don’t.

[MG Note: I’m not ignoring the multitude of bogus Right-leaning sites; my progressive sisteren and brethren all pretty much agree upon and can recite them from memory.]

Now For Some Perspective

All that said, it’s imperative for me to remind one and all that all the dubious Left-leaning, progressive, eco-, mindful-, kumbaya-oriented news sites taken in toto aren’t a fraction as dangerous as any one single Right Wing, demagogue-loving, nationalist, white-ist URL.

Believing that homeopathy is real, that L’il Duce would be five times richer than he is now if only he’d put his daddy-o’s dough into a mutual fund, or that Ike and the GOP grieved when Stalin died while today’s Republicans pillory Barack Obama for offering condolences to the Cubans on Castro’s death are as nothing compared to the rantings of the racists, supremacists, tsarists, uber-tories, and other such crushers of the populace. Living in a dreamy, fairy tale world is one thing; living under despotic separatists and strong-man idolators is quite another.

The Tale Of The Taping

I expect to have Perry Township trustee Dan Combs in at the WFHB studios this afternoon to record this week’s Big Talk. We’ll be hashing over what exactly a twp. trustee does as well as last week’s Good Friday brouhaha, at the center of which stood Dan’s son, Levi.

big-talk-logo-usable-screen-shot

Setting up today’s session has been a nightmare, thanks to the holiday and one or two other factors. Ah, well — that’s why they pay me the big bu…, hey, wait a minute!

Look Back In Anger

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