Category Archives: Post-fact society

Life during wartime

In my family, every member of my parents’ generation spent years of their lives trying to survive the chaos of World War II. For my grandparents, those experiences were all a horrific repeat of the ones they lived through during World War I. I grew up hearing all of their stories, so I don’t say …

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Penny wise and pound foolish

Today’s hue and cry over “fake news” is nothing new. History is filled with stories of people insisting that reality isn’t real. History consistently proves these people wrong in the end. In the shorter term, reality has another way of putting a damper on irrational, non-evidence-based and just-plain-stupid assertions and policies: they often cost way, …

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Why reality matters: You don’t want to be a sucker

Why do we care what is real or isn’t? What does it matter? Some 2,500 years ago, a disinformation campaign aimed at the Persian king Xerxes thwarted that ruler’s ambitions of conquering Greece and changed the course of Western civilization. Several hundred years later, Roman emperor Julius Caesar drummed up political support among common citizens …

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The time for ‘neutrality’ has passed

Just as pseudoscience — “science-y sounding” information that is not scientific — is dangerous when used to convey misinformation about health, energy, the environment and other topics, “pseudonews” is dangerous when used to convey misinformation about politics, finance, regulations, public policy and other matters of importance to citizens and society. It’s not necessarily “fake news,” …

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The tech-social justice conundrum

Now, suddenly, our much-vaunted tech leaders find themselves confronted with a conundrum that’s been quietly evolving for a long time: the conundrum of whether it’s possible to create an innovative, data-driven, smart and futuristic society without also taking care to ensure a societal foundation of rules and laws that are just, fair, equitable and humane. …

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Inauguration day

And so we come to this day: Jan. 20, 2017. Inauguration Day. The day on which the U.S. White House becomes – in the eyes of many who voted for a different presidential candidate – Slytherin House, its occupant the Left’s own Voldemort. During the 30 days leading up to today, I’ve been doing a …

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There’s nothing new about ‘fake’ news

During the interview for my first full-time newspaper reporting job, years before anyone had heard of – or even conceived of – the World Wide Web, I remember the managing editor of the small suburban weekly asking something to the effect of why he should hire me, a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in …

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In the long run, we are all subject to reality

Funny thing about “fake news” and propaganda: no matter who spreads the misinformation or how widely it’s believed, the “reality-based world” and rules of nature still ultimately prevail. No matter how many people wanted to blame medieval Europe’s Black Death on Jews, Romani or lepers, scientists today understand that the pandemic was caused by bites …

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After 2016: Planning for a ‘post-fact-checking’ era

The 2016 presidential race has, at long last, illustrated the clear and urgent need for journalists to be more than stenographers or writers of milquetoast, “he-said-she-said” missives that regardless won’t satisfy the true believers of Fox News’ “fair-and-balanced” fiction. The election suddenly elevated the importance of fact checking and, even, for the still-sadly small number …

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The toxic and alluring mix of truth and falsehood

Ask pretty much anyone who’s been around long enough to see a few U.S. election cycles in action, and they’ll probably agree with the statement, “Politicians lie.” And there’s plenty of evidence from the past few months alone to prove that’s true. Lies can be useful to a would-be leader, especially one with Machiavellian tendencies. …

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