Editorial #74 Fake News aired June 11, 2019

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Editorial #74 Fake News

With the technological advancement over the past 30 years the phenomena of fake news has finally risen to a point of serious public awareness and concern, spread by social media.

Fake news has been present for thousands of years which was previously called propaganda. In the past, only the powerful were able to advance their propaganda by using their influence with the media and their government controlled news agencies.

With social media, the powerful no longer have the exclusive franchise on advancing their message. Anyone with a smart phone is practically on equal footing with the powerful. The avalanche of information has put us into a state of informational overload. The irony is no one hears this noise unless it is so extreme or radical that it hits a nerve that sparks the emotions of hate or fear.

When that happens, the old propaganda machine kicks in. Those on social media are now doing the work of spreading their outrage which we are calling fake news.

The term of fake news is better described as incomplete news. It is a story where the contrasting point of view is withheld. It is broadcasted with selective voice inflections with key words inserted or deleted giving the story a completely different tenor.

For example, saying: “Unemployment is down 1%” sounds like good news. But saying the same fact: “Unemployment is down only 1%” sounds like bad news depending on which agenda one favors. The insertion or deletion of only one word makes the information useful in advancing either agenda. The news is factual in both statements but the bias is causing the casual listener to naturally side with their personal preference without taking time to research the fact.

The sad fact is we listen only to the news we like, that fuels our personal value systems and causes us to spread that message with those we associate.

How do we deal with this phenomenon? We start by teaching civics in our schools, again, along with principles of economics, science and mathematics that are consistent, logical, universal and can’t be violated. There is always two sides to any story with the truth always some place in the middle.

There is no perfect answer. Our purpose in life is to teach this Socratic method of cooperative conversation where logical arguments and critical thinking is used to distinguish the better answer from all the terrible alternatives. This is the method of problem solving we need our future citizens to learn. They need to learn this to insulate us from the major infection of fake news that is polluting our society.

This is Keith Kube wishing you the best in making the world a better place.

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