Thank you, Jim Peebles, for teaching me about Fake News

Like the rest of you, I’ve been hearing about how big of an issue so-called “fake news” is. I never really understood this, though. Sure, I’d seen outright lies posted on so-called news sites, but no one I knew personally took them seriously. How could anyone believe these lies? Clearly, it’s being made out to be a much bigger issue than it is. Sure, the media lies on occasion, but does anyone actually buy into these lies? I doubted it.

Until I started debating with this board’s very own Jim Peebles, over in this thread.

Jim hopped into the thread with this little bundle of joy:

Of course, that doesn’t sound like the real world at all. It sounds like the delusional parallel universe that some of us apparently live in. This got me interested. So, I asked Jim to put his money where his mouth is:

Initially, Jim claimed that Trump’s speech to the UN was actually awesome, and how dare the Liberal Media make it seem like he was a fool! Except that the article he linked didn’t claim that Trump was a “laughingstock” as Jim claimed. Instead, it presented Trump’s speech as vague, jumbled, and jingoistic; but much better than his Fire and Fury speech from last time.

I pointed this out to Jim, who decided to up the ante, linking to an article by a website called Mediaite which purported to show how CBS’s radio report on the kidnapping and torture of a disabled white boy by a group of four black teenagers was purposefully misleading, implying that four white teenagers attacked a black teen.

The article, at first, was very troubling to me. If true, then CBS Radio was guilty of exactly the same kind of bullshit that I criticize Fox News for pulling. I was disappointed in CBS, and almost couldn’t believe that they would do such a thing.

And that’s when I realized: they didn’t. This was the fabled “Fake News” I had heard so much about.

But of course, people are, by nature, good, and if I pointed out the flaws in the article to Jim Peebles he would surely realize the error of his ways. Ha, I was being naive…

Over the next few posts, I broke down the flaws in the article, showing that the hyperlinks on the page were misleading; that Mediaite supposedly found this story on Reddit, but no such post on Reddit actually exists; that the clip they posted not only doesn’t work now, but has never worked at any point and in fact uses a format that does not match the URL format of any other clip posted to that site; that people in the comments section were complaining about the file not existing on the day that the article was posted; and pointing out that even if the clip isn’t misleading, and CBS Radio did in fact screw up and not mention the race of the attackers, this clearly wasn’t a liberal conspiracy to fake the truth, since CBS articles posted on the same day state the race of the attackers and victim in the first sentence.

Jim’s only counter-arguments were to:

Post a hate-filled YouTube rant about the incident, as if this is some sort of cite, claiming that the video would have been taken down if it was wrong (WARNING: Don’t watch the video at work. At around 1:40, the YouTuber goes off on a tangent about how black people shouldn’t get away with saying the N word just by dropping the ER at the end. Disgusting video…)

Admit that he wasn’t able to find the original video, or any information on the incident other than what Mediaite claimed, but that he believes that this is a clear example of fake news on the Left anyhow

Claim that fake citations in an article are no reason to distrust it; claim that the most reasonable explanation is that the websites the hyperlinks went to changed, despite proof that this wasn’t the case (one of the links WAS bad because the website changed, and I was able to show this using the WayBackMachine. The other links were always bad); and reiterate that Racist YouTuber Mark Dice couldn’t possibly say something false in a video without having it taken down

And finally, most tellingly, explaining that he is not interested in debating whether or not the clip is real, because it fits in with his worldview.

Let me reiterate that one. Jim Peebles admitted, apparently with no awareness of the implications, that he is not interested in whether or not an allegation is true. He simply chooses to believe it, despite little evidence backing the claim and lots of evidence showing that those who made the claim are bald-faced liars, because it lines up with what he’s already decided: That the Liberals are conspiring to make it seem like minorities are under attack for their own nefarious purposes.

So thank you, Jim Peebles, for demonstrating your willful ignorance and thus helping to fight mine. No longer will I doubt whether fake news is effective. No matter how obvious the lie, there will be thousands of people just like you who have already accepted the articles before even reading them. I believe that this is literally true, because you’ve demonstrated little knowledge of your own cites, beyond the headline. For example, you claimed that you couldn’t find a video of CNN’s actual segment earlier in the thread, despite the video being available in the very page you originally linked. You saw that Fox News is telling you that Don Lemon and CNN are the REAL racists, and needed no convincing to believe it.

I wonder if Fox News knows how much money they can save. Why publish a whole article full of lies? Just post the headlines, and make them link back to the Fox News main page if clicked. I wonder how many people would even notice…

Nice post. It shows exactly what is wrong with some people.

Wow, that was a lot of work. I woulda just called him a dickface and moved on; but no, you had to leave your mark.

P.S. Mark Dice is a dickface, too.

Exactly. I honestly don’t think I really UNDERSTOOD it until this exchange with Jim. So for what it’s worth, I genuinely mean it when I say, “thanks”.

That’s exactly the danger with fake news. There’s so much of it that you can’t do what I did to every single story. But in this case, if I just discounted his posted article, I would have been doing exactly what he is doing - ignoring evidence that doesn’t line up with my preconceived notion. His article really did trouble me, which is why I wanted to look into whether or not it was true. Turns out – it wasn’t.

Protracted written screeds are perhaps not the ideal weapon of choice when one’s foe is an idiot who obviously doesn’t read much.

Yes, Babale’s work was thoughtful, well researched, and cited. Jim Peebles, not at all.

Quell suprise

Thanks, OP. Eye opening. Indeed!

Until recently I thought fake news was the national enquirer star in touch ect … and recently US magazine

Or everyone’s favorite the "weekly world news "

Tighten that up some, Shakespeare. Scribble scribble scribble, eh, Mr. Turnip?

nm

I keep hoping I’ll get to vote for Bat Boy in a presidential election.

First off, your research and efforts taken in your exchange with Jim Peebles were amazing.

Second, that’s not what “fake news” means.

“Fake news” means “real news that the monkey in the driver’s seat doesn’t like”. It’s not an accurate descriptor, but rather an attempt to discredit real news by claiming it’s the same as the shit the monkey likes - the likes of which you dissected as described in your OP.

Well, there are two definitions of fake news. One is the one you post here–it’s a term used by someone who doesn’t like the fact that he (or she) was quoted exactly or that his (or her) actions were reported accurately.

But there is “fake news” that meets the original definition: something made up and presented as if it were factual, as propaganda. For example, the reports that the Pope had endorsed the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016. Those were entirely fictional, but were presented as if they were actual news.*
To add to what others have said: Babale, your opening post was superbly written and documented. This could (and should!) be read in classrooms as a way of educating kids about bad argumentation versus good-faith argumentation.
*https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/pope-francis-donald-trump-endorsement/

Nitpick: Although he’s an ignoramus and a hater, I don’t believe Jim Peebles is a clinical moron, let alone an idiot. If I had to guess I’d bet on 105 IQ, and the same goes for most of the right-wing “idiots” on this board.

The may have highly-paid jobs requiring book learning and analytical skill. If they engage in conversation on a non-political topic they may come across as good-spirited and intelligent.

But on political issues they’ve brainwashed themselves, so that their bloated amygdalae, rather than cerebra, are in control.

It makes dealing with them all the more frustrating, of course. If they actually were idiots one would just walk past, hoping not to get slobbered on. Instead these are intelligent people, voting stupidly on Election Day and probably convincing others to as well.

Sometimes I prod them a little, linking to a particularly disgusting Trump video. They don’t respond — like other brainwashees they can block out contrary data. They may go quiet for a day; then come back to post more filth and lies.

Yeah, but the specific phrase “fake news” is very much a Trump term - I had never before heard it in my life before he started spouting it, and I’ve never hear it used unironically by anyone but him and his horde. It’s true that he didn’t originate the term and he wasn’t the first politician to use the term, but he latched onto it within a month or two of its first use and hasn’t let go. By the time I had first heard the term it had been fully co-opted, to such a degree that I consider using it to refer to news that is actually false to be in poor taste just because it dilutes the fact that in all official discourse it actually refers to accurate news that the speaker wants to divert people away from.

Jimbo isn’t necessarily the target audience. He’s built up a shell of propaganda that’s much thicker than anything I can pierce. I mean, he straight up admits that even if his cite is bullshit, he doesn’t care, because it captures what he believes to be the greater truth. The target audience is anyone who is considering listening to him, or anyone like him.

See, now I’m very curious what you had to say :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re not wrong, in that that’s how Fake News is generally used. You’re also not wrong because Fake News is entirely too polite a term for this sort of bullcrap. These sorts of lies are one of the largest dangers to our planet, considering how long the “debate” regarding Global Warming has been raging.

Actually, it’s funny you should say that. My wife is a teacher, and she asked me to put something together for her kids about critically reading sources that she can teach later in the year. It wouldn’t be a news article, probably something about science, but I agree with you, critical thinking is something sorely lacking in our education system.

Yep. That’s what’s scary about all this. People I know and have agreed with before have just gone completely off the rails lately.

Don’t know if you saw this post from nine days back in the “Trump Administration” thread, but it contained one hit from a number that come up when a search of “bullshit detection” is done:

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=21252516#post21252516

…Not that what you’d come up with for your wife’s project might not be better than what’s online, but the online stuff is at least worth a look.

(A very worthwhile lesson for your wife to be presenting to her students–kudos to her for undertaking it!)

Fair enough.

Thanks for the tips! I’ll definitely look into that, and show my wife.

I agree, she’s a great teacher, and this really is an important topic.

Actually, no, the term was in common use pre-Trump to refer to manufactured or distorted news by (usually) right-wing sites like Breitbart and Fox News. Trump amazingly co-opted it to mean the exact opposite of its original meaning, by applying it to the legitimate media. So now to his sycophants it means just what you said earlier, “Fake news" means ‘real news that the monkey in the driver’s seat doesn’t like’. It’s not an accurate descriptor, but rather an attempt to discredit real news by claiming it’s the same as the shit the monkey likes.”

Anyway, many thanks to Babale for the excellent work. It’s no surprise that Trump supporters are low-information morons with no critical thinking skills who live in a delusional world of “alternative facts” where real news is “fake news” and right-wing lies are deemed real news. It is of course the only way they can sustain their world-view.

The whole thing reminds me quite a bit of climate change debates where someone cites “evidence” of one of the bullshit claims that it either isn’t happening or isn’t a bad thing or some other nonsense. The pattern is very similar. Sometimes the claimed evidence is a real scientific paper in a legitimate journal. In all such cases it turns out that the paper has been grossly misunderstood or misrepresented, and in some humorous instances it actually says the exact opposite of what the lunatics claim. In other cases the “evidence” is simply some idiot’s blog or some unpublished garbage whose fallacies are plainly obvious.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted investigating these sources but never – not once – have I ever found any of them supportive of the claimed skepticism. ISTM that lack of knowledge is closely correlated with lack of critical thinking and the ability to discriminate reliable sources from garbage, so that low-information morons who don’t know anything are easily persuaded to “know” things that are absolutely false.