The post-fact age

As with many people online, I get emailed various publications’ material, including Wired, the tech site and everyone has his or her own system of honing sources generally trusted and those not trusted.

Wired, to me, is fine when exposing tech humbug and bringing new tech things. It’s a bit iffy IMHO when it comes to straight political commentary and that might have something to do with its address:

WIRED · 520 3rd St, Third Floor · San Francisco, CA 94107 · USA

And so:

Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World
By Michelle Dean

Many fake news peddlers didn’t care if Trump won or lost the election. They only wanted to pocket money. But the consequences of what they did shook the world. This is how it happened.

Promising and the Wired editor’s blurb seems to support that:

Note the expression “post-fact world”.

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none,” wrote William Shakespeare, roughly 390 years before the first Internet browser. And if there’s one part of that dictum that has held online in recent years, it’s the middle: “trust a few.” We may not be doing so great at loving all or doing wrong to none. But there are, in fact, a few places we do trust online. Wikipedia for one. And Google. And when it gets to the more specific questions of politics, or celebrity, we do seem to trust Snopes.

That was the starting point for Michelle Dean when she began to study the fact-checking site about six months ago: how is it that Snopes has come to play the central role that it plays in the great quest to identify truth online. But curiously, as she dug in, she found that the story of Snopes isn’t as clean as some of the answers it gives.

Finally woke up, did she? Well, that’s a good thing at least. But then I started reading through it and saw it was a female oriented personal piece on the relationships between people and nothing much at all about the political disinformation Snopes pumps out.

At least the lovely Michelle writes this:

No single truth purveyor, no matter how reliable, should be considered an infallible font of accurate information. Folks make mistakes. Or they get duped. Or they have a bad day at the fact-checking bureau. Or some days they’re just being silly. To not allow for any of this is to risk stepping into a pothole the size of Lake Superior.

OK, here’s just a random example of a real debunking of Snopes, there are many others:

I’m just staggered how many still quote Snopes as gospel when, if you read that Disclose TV piece, it was set up specifically as a “fact-checking” arbiter and even that expression has become synonymous today with “fact-free” leftwing or establishment.

“Post-fact age” wrote Michelle. We saw it in the Clinton/Trump debates where the leftwing moderator had an earpiece, as did Clinton and they were being directed from HQ. Fact checking? Hah!

Call me a wizened old cynic but for all the above reasons, alarms bells and red flags were ringing and waving all over the place.

Then there is the lovely Michelle’s status as the young female journo and I’ve already posted on how even supposedly right-of-centre females are afflicted with leftwing holdover ideas – see Tomi Lahren and her show The View, which had many Deplorables put her in the untrustworthy basket.

The bigger the blogger, the less I trust him [her]

To my mind, pundits like Spiked, Slate, Instapundit, even Guido over here, need to be approached with a healthy dose of scepticism – they have their own agendas, they pour enormous energy into mass readership, they present a slick, organized site behind which is obviously money.

Both OoL and my personal site are funded by individuals who might claim they’re vaguely right-of-centre or libertarian or Deplorable, the message is pretty clear I’d have thought. You know exactly what you’re getting.

And this brings me to two other points:

1. If the layout of the site is in that big, crisp print in single column, if it has pop-ups asking you to subscribe, if it lays down only what the writer has to say and you have to go searching for the comments thread – I’m suspicious.

2. When they give indications in their writing that they are “unbiased”, again I call BS. No one’s unbiased, big traffic sites least of all.

Take Spiked:

One of the ugliest sentiments behind Uberphobia is the idea that this service is a threat to the public, especially women. Darkly, the new left is at one with the anti-migrant hard right on this question: both have cheered Uber’s licence loss on the basis that …

… etc.

Brendan O’Neill is going on about Uber lovers being leftwing and those against being rightwing but my source Chuckles seems to back the leftwing stance. I just found it all too difficult to work out and left the issue alone.

Same with this one:

Chuckles headed it: “Pity they left out the second half.” Just a bit much for me working out whether this Aung San woman is a goodie or a baddie and trusted sources seem to disagree among themselves.

Perhaps this is the intention today – that sites put out disinformation which has the appearance of something we’d believe but there are just a few indicators here and there which make one suspicious. One has to be so bloody careful in this post-fact age.

I prefer sites which are up-front with their message, e.g. Knuckledragging, Patriot news, that sort of site. Then you can take what they say through the filter they admit to.

Here’s another example. Again, Chuckles wrote [there are some 30 or 40 emails each day]: “Some imodium is recommended before the first article, which should be contrasted with the imdb reviews.”

Ah, now we’re back to something I can understand. Do look at the first:

Up comes the subscribe pop-up panel and I’ll be damned if I’ll click on it, even to say no, I don’t want. Shan’t click on that at all, shall click out of the site.

Then it has a giant picture of an ethnic minority and it’s going to be a lefty female sob piece … before even reading it. Actually, it’s a man writing it.

We can be relieved that this show is good, I think, or at least that it’s far from terrible. And let’s be blunt, a lot of Star Trek has been terrible.

OK but the use of this “we feel this” device, also used by the MSM is fine when the readership is known … but not otherwise. At OoL or my site, “we” can be reasonably safe but how can a public site start saying what “we” believe? Who are “we” in that case?

And there’s that suspicious big crisp print again. Now look up at the navbar and there’s a donate button. Goodbye.

Let’s move onto IMDb:

Worst Star Trek to date

The casting is wrong. The camera work is terrible. The writing does not exist because the dialogue is horrible. The Klingons should feel like pirates who love life, battle and debauchery-in other words anything their senses tell them feels good-instead they make them into some hybrid Egyptian Hierarchy. If it’s pre-Kirk why is the technology better? It looks better. The music is also nonexistent. How can you make Star Trek and have no music? There are two people who should have been at the top of the list to run this show J. Micheal Strazynski and/or John Byrne. I can’t believe they have the nerve to ask me to pay for the second episode. Gene would not have approved and I certainly do not. Vulcan are logical not dullards. Study the original series. That’s the feeling you want to achieve. I cannot say how much I loathe this reboot. This is not Star Trek.

Ah, now that’s a review I can get into.

Commercial clickbait

I don’t use ad blocker as I want to know who is laying c**p on me and who is not. If it’s the American way of giving you a small snippet on page one but you have to start going through this Next Page rubbish, 1, 2, 3, 4, =>, I click out. Instantly. Don’t even bother any more.

Similarly, any site using the word THIS, meaning they keep back what they have to say – not interested, sorry, ain’t gonna read it, ain’t gonna waste my time. Chuckles sent a Michelle Malkin article. Instantly, up came the full screen hard sell, I clicked out and won’t go back.

Someone is giving these people very bad SEO advice.

Opinionated is good, consistent opinions are better

I’m looking for journalistic honesty. To be fair to Rachel Mad Cow at MSNBC, she is consistently wrong, she does not pretend to be unbiased, she is a left-loony and she consistently [or maybe it’s MSNBC] is consistently dishonest in her journalism.

You know what you’re getting.

Our Mike at OoL is also straight down the line, you know what you’re getting, it never varies. Plus he can write. It’s much better than someone making out he or she is this neutral, unbiased arbiter the whole society can come to.

Anyway, think you’ve got the general idea in this post.