It's scary how, as social networks' power gains more influence and accuracy, the lens through which we view content on the web will be narrowed and focussed. So much so, that coupled with the above 'fake news', is responsible for members of the public 'only seeing what they would want to see' - and not questioning the credibility of the source material.
We, as technologists, must work hard to strive towards an objective web. I think that fake news is just the beginning of a veil of blurriness that will flow over internet content.
It therefore strikes me as surprising that Facebook has started a 'flagging' system for fake content — when it relies on the above positive feedback loops of users with shared interests.
 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/38827101/how-facebook-...
I recently help but couldn't feel confused why 'fake news' is a new concept to people; why is everyone going on about it when (as you say) we've been subject to propaganda for as long as we can remember?
I think it largely comes down to social media and how (as other commenters have pointed out) its utterly widespread use only now warrants the spread of misinformation as 'propaganda' — because it reaches so many people these days. The Internet™ was — to a layman — seen as ubiquitous with truth and objectivity... and now that it suddenly (well, duh) transpires that our social network feeds are chock-full of misleading content from untrustworthy sources — everyone's going nuts about it.
 - http://www.salon.com/2017/01/03/noam-chomsky-you-cant-educat...
--Edit, added Chomsky source, as proof-of-cringe
See "Yellow Journalism" for the late 1890s as an example. This country has literally been dealing with "fake news" since the invention of the printing press.
It seems to have been rapidly adopted as a term to also include "opinions/interpretations I disagree with" - or in some cases "accurate things I wish weren't true".
I think lies, misinformation and propaganda underplay the essentially chaotic nature of a lot of this stuff. An evil mastermind at work is seductive as an idea because the solution is just punching. I don't see any evidence that that is the truth though.
Kind of. Before it became (for lack of a better word) a meme, it essentially meant literally what it says: news website that published fake articles. This is what the British tabloids have been doing for decades, for what it's worth.
After the US presidential election, it quickly became a buzzword referring to the sorts of websites that posted articles that aren't just misleading but are actively made up and are presented as being true. These were mostly very, very right-wing Trump-supporting websites.
>It seems to have been rapidly adopted as a term to also include "opinions/interpretations I disagree with" - or in some cases "accurate things I wish weren't true".
By the alt-right, yes. Trump and his supporters immediately co-opted the term to mean 'things I don't like', which Trump regularly applies to CNN, which is certainly not fake news by any reasonable definition.
I don't really think that fake news is particularly chaotic. It's intentionally misleading, intentionally biased, intentionally targeted towards peoples' rasher emotions.
When I was growing up my parents would take 'weekend drives'. They would look at architecture, comment on things from tree species to historical events in the area. And they would listen to talk radio. Most of the time, I'd be fighting nausea in the back seat. For a very long time I had a very strong association between talk radio and actual nausea.
About a decade ago a friend introduced me to Car Talk on NPR. Car Talk isn't jornalism or news, but it was very entertaining. It became my 'gateway drug' to NPR. I added Wait, Wait, Donn't Tell Me to the my list (again, not journalism, but definitely newsy), and now NPR's morning line-up, including actual journalism) is a regular part of my workday routine.
So, sometimes the clickbaity, not really news pieces can gently introduce people to the real deal.
(apologies for any typos: phone response)
Many/most of the general population seem to think "propaganda" only happens to other people, somewhere else, under a dictatorship, in Russia or North Korea for example. In contrast, many/most think the TV/media outlets they watch/consume (and most closely identify with) are the real news -- the true/fair/balanced/accurate news -- while the "other news" channels are "extreme" (MSNBC vs FOX NEWS) or "fake" (now ascribed to CNN).
It's supposed to be illegal for the USG to use propaganda against its own citizens. Curiously the "Lobbying Restriction" in the US tax code for IRS 501(c)(3) describes lobbying as "carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation": http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/501.shtml.
Call it propaganda, lies, manipulation, population control, fake news, the matrix, whatever -- I think the significance here is the general population now has a name for it. It resonates. It's gone viral. And now that it's entered the general lexicon and has become a real, legitimate topic of conversation, people will begin to see what's been hiding in plain sight. As the idea propagates through the system and gains strength, the veil will lose power as the curtain fades away.
The question to ask is: What happens next?
You're overlooking a phenomenon in living language where people want to label something specific and the existing term is too general. People want the extra connotations in the more specific term.
- too general: "lies" (could mean anything from a child's "fib" about eating a cookie or advertiser's false claims about their product)
- more specific: "fake news" (which is a subset of "lies") The "fake news" has extra connotation of transmission via media (news, social websites, etc).
If we all decided to always use the word "lies" to describe every variation of lies, we'd end up with cumbersome noun phrases and/or hyphenated combinations. E.g. "social-newsfeed-lies" or "news media for profit lies". Maybe some people really prefer to have the taxonomy of language embedded in the noun phrases (a linguistic form of Hungarian Notation?!?).
Consider the wiki page on "fake news". Should the wiki editors delete that entire page and simply redirect all search queries of "fake news" to the main page titled "Lie"? If so, a shade of meaning that was embedded in the term "fake news" would be lost in the process. (If you move the "fake news" from having it's own separate wiki to a subordinate heading within "Lie" article, that still acknowledges that "fake news" is a term with wide currency.)
Objective/Non-Biased content is great and essential, but I fear we're in the minority as people who consume content from both 'sides' of any given issue.
That makes me think if people naturally flow towards content which affirms their views/biases, how much blame can we put on sites for displaying 'relevant' content to such a users if they simply ignore content which goes against their views anyway?
Can you blame facebook that a hardcore trump supporter doesn't click on an article about how beneficial obamacare is simply because an algorithm knew they wouldn't have clicked on it anyway. for not showing it?
We're all going into little silos, I'm not really sure how to fix that.. Perhaps this is a natural evolution.. If it is, it seems we're being outnumbered by isolationists lately, though..
I have come to conclusion all this logical sophistication is fine cover when events were happening the way these people liked else the world is going to hell.
Reading only news which matches your views over a longer period seems to be making us all more aggressive/silo'd in our views..
It's pretty worrying, I'm not sure I can even have a reasonable discussion with someone who disagrees with me on any political topic which would end in a productive outcome anymore -- is it just me or does it seem that as a whole we're becoming more dismissive of others views and just shouting over each other, avoiding any challenges to the views we hold personally and then retreating back into our strongholds of those who agree with us?
I am just no longer interested in erudites who display such shallow understanding of human nature and world events but nonetheless whine whole day, whole year about how world is going to hell.
Nowadays I stick to tech, philosophy, Netflix etc. Though on netflix I notice how simplistic the social/political views of characters are even in shows with fantastic production values.
I come to the conclusion all this logical sophistication is fine cover when people don't bother you with their problems, else the world is unentertaining for you.
I mean I am no fan of any flavor of politicians or groups but I do not believe someone is 'uniquely evil', 'specially dangerous' but getting lot of public support.
Trump, for example, lost the popular vote and seems to anger many of the people who voted for him. The only voices of support we hear are from Vladimir Putin and Marine Le Pen.
People are afraid and feel the impulse to do what they can to counter what is happening right now.
On a tangential note, I would recommend the 1995 French (fiction) movie "La Haine" (Hate). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Haine
> The only voices of support we hear are from Vladimir Putin and Marine Le Pen.
I imagine It is same thing that somehow who voted for Trump were more than who were claiming to be supporter of Trump. There will be more leaders who are neutral or agree with Trump but would prefer to just keep quiet.
For example I notice a lot of support for Trump in India apart from a small section of elite who are ideologically opposed or IT workers/companies who are hopeful or dependent on US visas.
If I write an article about global warming, is it biased to not present the "denial" angle? Is it biased to present the denial angle with the same weight as the "scientific" angle?
Everything is tainted by this to some degree.
Truth doesn't lie in the middle, nor does it care about politics.
For example, the Affordable Care Act is in place, but costs are still rising. Some people think that this is because it's not "enough socialism". Others think it's because of "too much socialism".
You could list facts, but people are not looking for raw data, they're looking for analysis. How do you analyze this "objectively"?
Even if the content is objective in the sense of reality, many people will say it's not objective. And public opinion of "objective" sources are usually those that play to the both sides fallacy.
Going back to GGP's thing, people read what they want to read. What if you just happen to be right? Like, what if the "liberal echo bubble" is "actually" the truth? does this problem go away?
I think objectivity is hard to maintain, but objectivity + belief of objectivity in the public eye is probably impossible.
At the very least, an acknowledgement of conflicting ideas would go a long way to gaining the trust of those who may have disagreeing opinions. Give me two partisan views of the same topic, and one author points out a summary of the conflicting ideas of their "opponent" while the other is silent, if I am on the fence on the issue I am going to have more trust in the opinions of the party who was transparently honest.
I'm not seeing much of this from anyone these days.
I personally can't feel confident in my views until I have heard and understood the motivation and arguments for all sides.
I doubt people will ever understand how to use social media properly, since there's no incentive or mechanisms to self-correct - "sharing" is much harder when you actually have to look at other people's reactions face to face. Sure, on social media you could get in a flame war with someone who shares fake news or has a different viewpoint than you, but it's extremely unlikely that it will have any effect.
For now the conclusion I've reached is that social media should be considered harmful, so I've deleted my Facebook account, and encourage everyone else to do the same. There are more than enough substitutes available for humans to communicate with each other.
The same phenomenon that causes these fake articles to go viral is the same thing that makes rumors and gossip travel so quickly through social circles. I think it comes from a need for self-preservation. Like 'ya that's probably not true, but I better pay attention just in case'.
The neat thing about social media is that it formalizes social circles such that they can become measured and analyzed. We might actually be able to get ahead of things like racist theories or fascist propaganda, but the technology is still in its adolescence.
My argument was that I go to the BBC of all places to get The News, not My News.
A Rotten Tomatoes for news!
It contains many thoughts/things that I (and I suspect 'we') have had about where we are, and how we got here, but seeing them altogether in one condensed form was quite hard to take in. It's rather hard to hear our story in this form.. I'll give it another watch soon.
For all the feelings of helplessness it inspires, I highly rate it and would suggest it to anyone. It's on iPlayer (for the brits here) for the next 200 days or something...
I really hope we are not running out of people like Adam Curtis, I'm not really sure of anyone else producing content like this which is so accessible -- would love to hear any suggestions on more content like this besides chomsky and dan carlin's podcast which are my other two favourite opinion content i put beside this in my virtual bookshelf :}
tl;dr -- watch it, but be forewarned you can't 'unwatch' it and, at least for me, it can be a bit much to deal with in one go.
Fantastic documentary. Curtis is a genius.
Other than that the episode about Dinesh D'Souza is one of the funniest things I've listened to in a while!
The "real" Gray Wolves are the paramilitary youth wing of a Turkish ethnic-nationalist party.
EDIT: lol apparently not many others.
On the other hand "Century of Self", "The Trap", and "All Watched Over By The Machines Of Loving Grace" are much better and should be required watching in the data and socio-economics communities.
All three cover the the same idea about how simplification of complex societal behavior for modeling purposes has been confused for an actual explaination of behavior, and how this confusion has forced people to behave as if the simplification is reality. He specifically deals with at times the idea of a rational market with perfect information which runs counter to behavior economics studies.
To make my own comical example, recall the story of the farmer that writes to the physics department and gets back a study that presumes a spherical cow. Instead of dismissing it, the farmer then goes about building stalls for spherical cows, because that's what the study says. Then cattle breeders start breeding cows to maximize their spherical properties.
Wikipedia on Adam Curtis: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Curtis
The century of the self on youtube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s
Other films of his are also on archive.org
When you disagree with such movies it's probably easier not to get sucked in too much into the narrative style, so you can separate manipulation and stated facts easier.
There is another kind of documentary, e.g. the Ken Burns style, that seems to take no position, similar to a piece of journalism. This is simply a different style of documentary.
You should check out Werner Herzog's "Lo and Behold", which may be at the center point of these two styles. In that film, Herzog is clearly stating a point of view, but the visual structure -- its scenes, setup, cinematography, and structure -- borrows from the journalistic style. If you put these three styles on a spectrum, perhaps then you will find the style itself isn't worth debating, just as George Orwell vs Jorge Luis Borges may have been writers of very different styles, but very (nonetheless) interesting content.
It still had beautiful cinematography, but I just couldn't enjoy the commentary.
To be honest: Yes. I kind of avoid columns for that reason. I get very little out of that kind of stuff. The same goes for those lengthy "long read" opinion pieces that have come into fashion. They're basically just very long columns.
But, I think the term "manipulative" suggests Curtis is somehow being "dishonest" in his filmmaking. I find that instead he's trying to craft an intellectual argument which may lead you to rethink things. In this film, the suggestion is that eroding at the nature of truth can lead to many in society feeling numb to current events, because they cannot trust what is "real" and what is "theater". The result might be fatalism/apathy. This is an interesting thought and, in my view, very relevant to our world.
Each one may be internally consistent, but the ones that overlap (in time or in subject matter) are semi-contradictory.
Still different strokes for different folks and all that.
It dawned upon me that some of the techniques of desire-manufacturing/advertising that used psychological techniques, as mentioned in Century of the Self, were also used to compel the viewer about the curated historical web of causality. And I really think that Hanlon's razor supplants to much of the powers that be mentioned movie.
I almost feel like this movie really displays the enouement of neoliberalism: nothing ever changes in this world any more (thus we're near "the end of history"), we're stuck in a massive deadlocked monetary system that has only "unrealistic" alternatives, "humanitarian interventions" in conflicts are necessary crusades and we cede that they may have the same power dynamics of imperial invasions but since they are done in the name of freedom and democracy they are to be absolved for their ambitions, and so on. I think that in that regard, the documentary falls short of exploring things that are subversive to hegemony.
I was unsatisfied with the idea of watching a powerful documentary about hypernormalisation without searching for a critical explanation of the hypernormalisation of the documentary maker, too. Here's one such:
That said, I did genuinely enjoy the movie and appreciate that it inspired me to reflect on modern history.
To counterbalance Curtis' fairly conservative view of modernity, this talk by the late Mark Fisher is really good: the slow cancellation of the future 
Yuri, in 1983, says that it takes 15-20 years to subvert a society. An undertone to his whole argument implied that the West was already at least partially subverted, and in motion even then.
Note that these aren't tremendous sources, I'm only providing some historical facts because the narrative has been completely lost.
Bill Clinton built a wall, and kept out immigrants.
Bill Clinton fought against welfare and the nanny state:
Bill Clinton bombed countries on a hair trigger and created enemies overseas:
The fatal flaw in Curtis' documentary, and in most people who view it, is they think only Republicans suffer from hypernormalization. BOTH parties are guilty, and yes it's going to keep getting worse even if we have a D beside the president's name. Go back and watch The West Wing and see how long it takes until they're justifying the murder of innocent people in the middle east.
They've mastered using the left's tactics against them.
No one has a monopoly of truth, or lies. And neither owns the tactic either, stop being tribal
My impression is that working bottom-up is more suited for solving complex problems with many unknowns. Sure, many undertakings, like the Arab Spring, failed. And this is hardly surprising because a lot of success depends on happy accidents which you can't expect to happen. But bottom up "miracles" like modern computer technology or new musical genres do happen. Otoh, from the top of my head, I don't remember a single complex problem with many unknowns that was (successfully) solved with top-down planning.
Ironically, LSD (which apparently inspired Curtis a lot) is another classic example for this. It failed miserably at what it was intended to do but turned out to be a happy accident for other purposes.
Think of it like the Kennedy speech about going to the moon with in a certain date. That sets the point on the horizon to steer towards by declaring a vision. Then it is up to the larger group to figure out just how to get there while faced with various obstacles etc en-route.
A good captain declares the course, but trust his crew to get them there without him micromanaging every detail.
A revolution can be a nice first step, but it's a waste of time if you don't know the specifics of how everything should run the day after the revolution is finished. You like bottom-up designs. That's great; so how, specifically, do we implement that? Just like how programming needs actual code (not just a plan to use a bottom-up design), managing society also needs specifics. It's easy to point out the serious problems with the current government, but that's isn't going to fix anything unless someone also includes actual specifics about what the fixed system should look like.
> A revolution can be a nice first step, but it's a waste of time if you don't know the specifics of how everything should run the day after the revolution is finished.
The way I see it, a revolution is often necessary but seldom met with success. I am not confident that what follows can be specified. I think it rather emerges from circumstances which may or may not turn out to be a boon. Whether or not there are specifics may be a question of the altitude from which you look at it, though.
Having said that, I don't want to discount your comment in any way. Just my two cents. I am not a professional revolutionary ;)
Given that Iranians are human beings and therefore, evil Islamists or not, must have similar emotions towards their offspring as other human beings, I find that claim about as believable as the stories of German soldiers eating babies in WWI  which is to say, not at all.
Unfortunately after hearing that I find it very hard to believe anything else in that video.
One question I have for those that have seen his stuff - a recurring criticism I see of Curtis' work is that he states his opinions as if they are historical facts and heavily editorialises, leaving out important chunks of history because they don't support the view he's trying to push.
Are these accurate criticisms? I don't want to feel like I'm learning about history when in actuality I'm being fed something that's inaccurate (thanks 'King of Kong' for ruining my trust in documentaries, but I digress!). For example after watching 'The Power Of Nightmares' I feel like I know much more about what was going on in the world of geopolitics in the 80s and 90s, but I'd hate to think that I've just picked up a series of falsehoods (doubt this is the case though).
I think that's a fair criticism of Adam Curtis - but then again it is pretty much a fair criticism of pretty much every analysis of historical events - everyone has an agenda.
Having said that, I absolutely love Bitter Lake more for sheer experience than anything else.
His work is designed to ping the same sense of delight in being party to a secret that motivates conspiracy theorists.
So that's an hour and twenty minutes of my time on this lonely Earth wasted watching the modern equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or the Illuminati trilogy but, like, for serious. I should have watched BSG reruns instead.
not any part you'd ever come in contact with. it's like being worried about greek people living in Paris
Are there really no parallels for popular opinion straying significantly from established facts and resulting in irrational behaviour before natural correction...? Are the South Sea Bubble and the Cold War not two such such examples of this?
Great soundtrack again too.
>> "Putting up a wall will hurt the human smuggling business model, taking power from criminals, and stopping thousands of sex crimes every year."
>> " In 2010 and 2011 hundreds of people were executed in the San Fernando massacres."
And the connection is? (hint: there isn't one; there's no causal relationship between los zetas and a wall, because a wall won't have a significant effect on their operations) 
>> "All of the business leaders that support him can tell you that"
>> Milo's schtick is doxxing people at talks.
>> The Trump homophobic thing is a false canard; he's never been seriously accused of homophobia
>> "The news media says he is racist, but then why would he care about Mexican women being raped?"
These two statements have no relationship with each other.
Link to transcript? I can only find articles about him not an interview. A cursory glance across them doesn't support your statement.
Oh but you can. It works on most humans... all humans. Everyone is subject to priming, bias, aggressive marketing and advertising.
> paints other religions and ethnicities as being evil
> paints other nationalities as being evil
> anti-independent judiciary
None of those views fall very far outside of mainstream Republican belief. Trump just replaced the typical dog-whistle with a bullhorn, because he's politically incompetent, and was far more blatant in pandering openly to the fringe.
thanks for making the wrong premise explicit and not have us waste our time.