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What skills do we need in the age of fake news?

Written By: - Date published: 8:19 am, November 23rd, 2016 - 130 comments
Categories: education, journalism, making shit up, Media, uk politics - Tags: , , , , , ,

Revelations surrounding the role of fake news in the American election have been stunning. If you haven’t been following the topic, here’s a quick catch-up:

Well.

This is a deep and complex problem, and also a crisis for democracy. Here’s another depressing angle:

Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds

Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.

Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.

A growing number of schools are teaching students to be savvy about choosing and believing various information sources, a skill set educators label “media literacy.” A free Stanford social-studies curriculum that teaches students to judge the trustworthiness of historical sources has been downloaded 3.5 million times, says Sam Wineburg, a professor in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and the lead author of the study on teens.

However, fewer schools now have librarians, who traditionally taught research skills. And media literacy has slipped to the margins in many classrooms, to make room for increased instruction in basic reading and math skills. …

It’s not just “teens” who have a problem of course, but let’s just follow up on that educational angle.

What skills do we need to tell fake news from real? Critical thinking, the ability to analyse material. Research skills, the ability to find and evaluate information. An understanding of how human reasoning works, logical fallacies, the structure of rhetoric. Ideally some background in general history, philosophy and science.

So how are we doing in NZ? As per the quoted piece, we are reducing the time spent on critical and creative thinking in skills to over-focus on basic “reading and math” (national standards). In our universities the humanities – where most of the critical skills that we need are fostered – are being significantly undercut – just at the time that we need them the most.

This doesn’t end well for democracy.

130 comments on “What skills do we need in the age of fake news?”

  1. esoteric pineapples 2

    This is a great article that examines how someone’s assumption that a group of buses were being used to bring in Trump protestors (they turned out to be parked near the protests for something completely different) ended up being spread as news.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/business/media/how-fake-news-spreads.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=2

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Just remember that this is the same New York Times which is currently facing a 5x higher normal level of complaints from subscribers about their obviously biased and one sided election coverage, and is losing its shirt to alternative news media.

    • Anne 2.2

      We had a variation on that theme in NZ just a few weeks ago. Four buses were parked outside the Labour Party Conference venue waiting to transport some 300 hundred delegates to Mt. Roskill to do some canvassing. TV3 news filmed them while they remained empty and then claimed on the 6pm news that… no-one bothered to turn up.

      • Wensleydale 2.2.1

        That’s what our journalists do now. They lie about things. They make stuff up. They embellish the facts, ignore them completely or use phrases like “It is believed…” and “Sources close to the person/incident say that…” to make bizarre assumptions and to disguise opinion as fact in order to control the narrative. I’m looking at you Stacey Kirk.

  2. Olwyn 3

    No amount of critical thinking classes will help if ‘real’ news takes the form of fake news from the outset. Without going to the US, look at the hounding of Winston Peters here in 2008. We had a breathless media, screaming and carrying on as if careless book-keeping was more-or-less equal to spying for a foreign state. It seems they had agreed that Peters was to be sunk to make way for King Key. Then there was the series of false accusations against Cunliffe, in 2014 – he too was to be sunk, and the media obliged. Chris Trotter, over at TDB, has said, Since Watergate, the journalistic profession has gradually taken upon itself the role of pontificator-in-chief. Rather than allow the facts to speak for themselves, journalists have felt it necessary to explain to their readers, in great detail, what the facts mean and how they should respond to them.http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/11/21/the-limits-of-journalism/

    It is hardly surprising, when people are continuously fed fairy tales designed to show why the establishment should get its own way, that they will turn to an alternative set of fairy tales when they are fed up with the establishment. The “left” in the US lost because it did not take the desire for change seriously, not because of fake news. However, the force of fake news would be reduced by a media that stuck to the facts, did not use the facts selectively, and allowed the facts to speak for themselves.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Lefties must not forget that alternative news sources have always covered the stories and the angles that acceptable establishment news sources have refused to cover.

      An obvious example is how Ramparts Magazine exposed the true cruelty of the Vietnam War when the Washington Post and the New York Times were still refusing to acknowledge what the US was doing in that country.

      • Olwyn 3.1.1

        That’s true, but those stories too rely on the recognition of journalistic standards if they are to distinguish themselves from the rubbish out there and gain legs. In fact the recognition of journalistic standards has weakened as narrative-creation has gained force. Look at the treatment of Hager and Stephenson, for example, and it is all ad hominem attack rather than considered counter-argument.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      How much of the news we get from the MSM is fake?

      Certainly we’ve seen enough from the MSM to prove that they’re more about manipulating the public than they are about informing them.

      • gsays 3.2.1

        Hi draco, I heard part of rnz’s article on fake news on Catherine Ryan yesty.
        What surprised me was the holding up of TV news and papers as some.sort old standard bearer.

        I ditched TV a few years back and the papers.went the same way soon after, mainly because of the inane drivel served up as news.

        Adam Curtis, in Century of the Self, shows how the individual has become paramount over family or community.
        Your opinions matter, you are important.

  3. Colonial Viper 4

    Fake news is an establishment media’s last cries that no one is listening to them any more. And that ordinary people have figured out that they are biased and untrustworthy.

    (Anyone here think that mainstream news outlets in NZ pander to the power holders John Key and National, and often cast Andrew Little and Labour in ridiculous and negative ways?)

    57 out of 59 large daily newspapers in the USA endorsed Trump, only 2 endorsed him. And the people ignored the establishment.

    As for the self defeating Stanford research that young people who do not have the skills or insight to tell the difference between “fake news” (an engineered propaganda term if I’ve ever heard one) and ‘credible’ mainstream real news, here’s a small fact:

    The younger the voter in the 2016 election, the more likely they were to vote Hillary Clinton.

    The older the voter, and the more likely they were to be able to distinguish what was credible and what was fake, the more likely they were to vote Donald Trump.

    • Andre 4.1

      I suppose the way you’ve been spreading fake news all over The Standard kinda makes you an authority on the topic.

      • Macro 4.1.1

        ^^^^^
        THIS

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.2

        I’m surprised you don’t realise how propagandised we are in the west, yet you’ll fully accept that The NZ Herald and stuff.co.nz frequently publish painfully obviously biased articles promoting the NATs and making unfair digs at Labour.

        • Macro 4.1.2.1

          I’m astounded at how propagandised you have become over the past few months and feel sorry for you.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.2.1.1

            It seems that I read more widely than you from a wider range of sources, and picked that there was a definite, though smaller, chance of a big Trump win. And so it turned out to be.

            BTW Trump just told the New York Times that he was keeping an open mind about whether or not the US should pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and both Trump and Rudy Giuliani have said that there isn’t really any point in pursuing prosecutions against Clinton. Interesting, eh.

            • marty mars 4.1.2.1.1.1

              Uturns is the term, as suspected will be lots and lots of them when bombast meets reality

              • Colonial Viper

                Wow. Didn’t you realise that Trump is actually a life long New York democrat? I did. He’s been friends and donors to all the big New York democrats like the Clintons, Chuck Schumer and others. A quick survey of the news pre-2012 made that clear.

                Also Trump has a number of prime properties which are very susceptible to sea level rise. He knows that this is a real problem.

                So it was obvious to me, even while people like you were losing your minds calling Trump a racist alt-right bigot misogynist new Hitler about to turn evil dictator.

                • red-blooded

                  CV, do you see the great and glorious Trump as being somehow even more wonderful because you clearly believe he was lying and deceiving his voters about his intentions to “lock her up” and his assertions that climate change is a lie and that ‘most scientists’ agree with that?

                  Either he was always deliberately lying or whether he’s a clueless doofus who was making things up as he went along. Neither of these possibilities makes him a good person or a good leader for the US.

                  Plus, I do think there’s a difference between real news and fake news. That appalling set of fake statistics that Trump tweeted about what percentage of people were killed by people of different ethnicities is a great example of “fake news”. Again, either he was deliberately lying or he was an idiot who didn’t bother to check out important (fake) info before sending it out labelled as fact.

                  I teach research skills at high school level. Plenty of kids have great evaluative and critical thinking skills. However, I also teach kids who can’t evaluate the difference between an objective, independent information site (eg careers.org.nz) and a the self-interest and spin of a promotions pamphlet from a training organisation. We try to encourage them to evaluate what the aim of the communication is, how reliable the source is and to get them to compare information from a range of sources. These skills are explicitly taught. Whether they’re applied outside of a school situation is another matter, of course.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    How is it my fault that clever educated discerning critics of Trump like yourself kept taking him literally but not seriously? Whereas actual Trump supporters almost always took him seriously, but not literally.

                    • red-blooded

                      Bullshit. Are you telling me that people who chanted, “Lock her up!” always knew he was just kidding? (If you now believe he WAS just kidding… At the time, I seem to recall you posting a lot of his hyped-up claims about emails and supposed “rigged” voting machines…)

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Clinton preferrers like yourself need to recognise that Trump is going to be a damn serious POTUS.

                      His new line on Clinton is nothing more than basic politics. In order to look forward, bring the nation together and govern as the President of *all* USA’sians.

                      Trump’s red meat base will have to get over it.

                      The liberal intellectual yet idiots who happily poured petrol on to the self-accelerating hysteria around Trump being the next Hitler, a racist, a misogynist, a bigotted monster, are of course struggling to get their heads around this.

                      As for Clinton’s private email server. Yes, IMO it’s a national security crime site which she is responsible for.

                      Trivia for you: 43% of unionised labour households voted Trump.

                    • RedLogix

                      Well what an interesting month. I’ve just emerged from total isolation to catch up.

                      First of all congratulations on so accurately predicting the Trump’s EC numbers. I consistently maintained that it was a chaos election, in which anything was possible including a Trump victory … but I wasn’t prepared to put hard numbers on it as you were. Of course such success enraged everyone.

                      Also congratulations on passing through the resulting shitstorm of graceless shaming and bullying with your personal integrity intact.

                      At present I am in North America, and everyone I have listened to talking about Trump’s win have said pretty much the same thing … they don’t necessarily like or even wanted Trump, but in simple terms … everyone believes a change was necessary. Most still see Trump as a gamble, some clearly foresee the chance his Presidency could end disastrously. Several have said that once Sanders was killed off by the DNC, Trump’s win became almost inevitable. These are not fancy political conversations, just the intuitions and convictions of ordinary people.

                      Personally I still don’t LIKE the fact that it has come to a Trump Presidency. But more than anything else it is the end result of decades of hubris, hypocrisy and betrayal from the establishment left, and even now when the consequence is so undeniably visited upon them, they still lack the humility and honesty to say ‘we fucked up’.

                      As for the behaviour shown by the ‘establishment’ here at The Standard. I no longer want to be associated with it. The past month or so has been a remarkable and transformative time for me; finally I have discarded my own burden of low expectations. I’m not looking back; and I’m certainly not going to waste any of my remaining life and power mingling with petty, dishonest keyboard bullies.

                    • Olwyn

                      @RedLogix: I hope you will still comment from time to time – I have always enjoyed reading your insights and considered opinions. When it was said that someone was withdrawing, I feared it might be you. Since I am not part of the set-up I only saw the results of the internal tensions from the periphery.

                    • In Vino

                      It seems to me that CV’s critics are Stalinists – there is only one party line. Cross it at your peril. CV does so, but never dishes out the personal abuse he receives. He just dishes out another relevant fact/piece of info/argument. Then you all foam at the mouth and deliver more personal abuse. More fools you.

                      To me. CV offers fresh perspectives, rather than the asinine crap trolling we get from PR, etc.

                      Consider the possibility that your blinkered vision and tolerance are not shared by all on the left. You are fighting the wrong enemy.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      RL, may you fare well with new perspectives, and in all things and in all endeavours.

              • Anne

                … bombast meets reality

                Nutshell.

      • One Two 4.1.4

        Given the number of links posted by yourself and others around the election topic…eg Joe90

        Links which were clearly suspect in source and content…

        I would say your comment aimed at CV is hypocrisy exemplified

        • Andre 4.1.4.1

          Perceptual reality alleviates existential potentiality.

        • In Vino 4.1.4.2

          Oh, so we are barred from “links which were clearly suspect in source and content.”?
          I don’t like Stalinist censorship, I like freedom of information and I will make up my mind about what I think is correct.

    • Their denialism is quite staggering. Rather than meaningful post-analysis, Clinton proxies still pretending to be journalists are lashing out at anything they can. White nationalism! Fake news! Pepe the frog! They know exactly why alternative media and social media defeated them, and they know that their one-sided narrative created the need to hear the other side, and created the opportunity to present it. This is of course also why the opportunity arose for people to traffic in phoney news stories too.

      It’s just like how Clinton’s very well paid team of well heeled, attractive, fashionable and of course millenial social media marketers got their asses handed to them by the meme lords of 4chan while regular news outlets were still blathering on about how social media savvy the Clinton campaign was. They lost the internet hard.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        And the middle aged Ohio fitter turner who voted Obama twice.

        • wellfedweta 4.2.2.1

          Good article, thanks. There are parallels between the Democratic Party bequeathed by Obama and the Labour Party bequeathed by Clark.

          • red-blooded 4.2.2.1.1

            A couple of comments:
            1) The GOP (as even your own link accepts) took absolutely no action to learn from its mistakes. The report was filed. Nothing changed. In fact, they were even more extreme this time.
            2) When popular long-term leaders step down, there’s often a renewal period. Shock, horror. enough with the “bequeathed” label. National slumped after Muldoon, and again after Bolger. They came back. I can’t wait for them to slump again after Key, but I don’t kid myself that they’ll never be back.

            • Colonial Viper 4.2.2.1.1.1

              1) The GOP (as even your own link accepts) took absolutely no action to learn from its mistakes. The report was filed. Nothing changed. In fact, they were even more extreme this time.

              The GOP establishment sat on their hands yes.

              But Reince Priebus was spot on with that report’s recommendations.

              And he saw in Trump someone who understood that.

              Trump, with the backing of Priebus, and also of millions of grassroots Republicans who wanted radical change, smashed wide open the Republican establishment, politically burying Jeb Bush and 15 other leading establishment Republican candidates.

              Trump is now well on the way to completely remaking the Republican Party and decimating the support base of the Democrats.

              The renewal which you say the Republican Party resisted so hard, finally overwhelmed them on every front.

              Next stop: taking away working class Latino and African American support from the Democratic Party.

            • wellfedweta 4.2.2.1.1.2

              1. National were back in power 6 years after Muldoon. That’s looking like at least 12 for Labour.
              2. What Labour have been experiencing since Clark is not ‘renewal’, it is carnage.

  4. Draco T Bastard 5

    What skills do we need to tell fake news from real?

    How about we start with the news source it self and have them link to a credible source to back up what they say?

    Article about science? Needs to link to the peer reviewed study.
    Article about what a politician said? Needs to link to the raw video.

    Can’t back up what they say? Then a small fine of say $2,000,000 should make sure that they won’t do it again.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Unnamed Pentagon sources say that top secret intelligence reveals that Saddam Hussein has vast stock piles of weapons of mass destruction which could be used against Europe within days etc.

      PS Draco do you believe that the Prime Ministers Office and the Westpac Chief Economist are credible sources? Surely you could not get any more credible than them?

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        Yes, I’m quite aware of how public support for the invasion of Iraq was brought about.

        Now, do you really think that that would work if they’d linked to that source and to the UN nuclear inspectorate that said that there wasn’t?

        do you believe that the Prime Ministers Office and the Westpac Chief Economist are credible sources?

        They need to link to peer reviewed studies. And that includes if it came from the PM or a bank economist.

      • Macro 5.1.2

        The example of “unnamed sources” fails the veracity test proposed by Draco.

        The PM’s office and Westpac both primarily exist to promalgate propaganda so need to be treated accordingly.

  5. save nz 6

    Part of the problem is also that the MSM news is so politically biased and compromised that there is a lot of difficulty analysing the ‘truth’ from any source.

    I heard that Clinton’s advisers also pushed Trump early as a candidate for the republicans because they thought he would be easier to beat.

    That obviously didn’t work out as planned.

  6. save nz 7

    National Standards in NZ especially for the primary schools kids is killing creativity, critical thinking, initiative and so forth.

    They spend 7 years teaching kids to sit still and be quiet in the classroom and go over a very narrow set of criteria set by the government and then wonder why kids nowadays are ‘hopeless’ and ‘anxious’ and ‘turned off learning’.

    Lets hope we have a change of government and one that wants to create 21st contrary learning to encourage innovation, creativity, critical thinking and drive – because we the next generation have a pretty dim future under the current system.

    The skills of doing what you are told, rote learning, diligently following a process no matter how little it makes sense and so forth, are the manual and middle manager job skills that are disappearing the fastest with technology.

  7. tc 8

    Public and community broadcasting is the only solution, any profit driven owned entity will always be able to be influenced.

    Put RNZ/TVNZ under legislation that enshrines independance and give community radio and tv access to some spectrum. Stratos was killed off by the nats as it had the likes of david beatson doing actual journalism.

    Listening to a melb community station having their 40th anniversary currently makes you realise what potential it has if allowed to exist and prosper.

    Oz has the models in place, drag and drop here and we’d be well on the way.

  8. shorts 9

    Skills – are young people here still taught to question things?

    I know this was something installed into me repeatedly as a youngster…. which serves me better today than ever before as I check sources, google phrases to check validity… seek news stories from different sources that aren’t a straight copy and paste job before I leap to the conclusions so many news items are designed to trigger

    Needless to say for fake news to be called out and quashed we need real unbiased news, which outside of RNZ is increasingly hard to find (at a local level) – it seems our media or more opinion peddler and brand builders (for key staff) than actual news outlets

    Fake news is a thing… and I for one applaud how quickly Fake News has become news… with experts, opinion makers and the like leaping in to offer opinion, statistics (real and false) and the like creating a entire new range of news stories in itself

    Its been a good week for fake news reportage in NZ – hooooray

    • riffer 9.1

      They are not being taught to question things by schools, but many parents are choosing to teach their kids extra to what schools do. If you’re relying completely on the system for the education of your children, you deserve what you get.

      • Siobhan 9.1.1

        Nice.
        You do realise some parents simply do not have the time or energy to interact with their children in a constructive way. Long hours, long commutes, the stress of insecure employment and housing…not conducive to good parenting, let alone philosophical discussions about Politics and ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and the general state of the World.

        As for ‘you deserve what you get”…it is not just the parent who pays the price for a ‘neglected’ child..it is the whole of society. Schools can not be a substitute for pro active parenting, but they can, and have, turn around the lives of young people and help create functioning worthwhile members of society.

        • aerobubble 9.1.1.1

          There used to an understandinf that past a certain point, the return on extreme profits was a risk in of itself, as we now see in world pollution, bad pr for global corps, bad associations for Politicians. Not any longer, with Trumps election anything goes. All the old practices, rules, commonsences, gone. It was the great compromise the socialists and fascist made in the 70s, that they’d see if capitalist would fallover on its own as Marx predicted, but both would just make as much money as possible. Society needs engaged actors, not profit seekers in steroid legislative absence.

      • red-blooded 9.1.2

        Riffer, plenty of schools embed a culture of questioning, exploring and debating into their curriculum, and their wider school culture. And NCEA makes that a hell of a lot easier than it was in the past.

        • Lara 9.1.2.1

          Thank you Red Blooded.

          Thinking skills are a key skill in the curriculum. At least, at secondary level where I used to teach science and geography.

          This idea that national standards has removed that is concerning. AFAIK thinking skills are also central to the curriculum at primary school level.

          In fact, they’ve removed much of the content for secondary science in order for teachers to focus more clearly on thinking skills.

          As a teacher in NZ classrooms I had a helluva lot of leeway in what and how I taught. So at the end of the day it’s really up to the teachers.

          But it’s still right there central in the curriculum.

    • Wensleydale 9.2

      We had an English teacher in fifth form who covered in great depth the psychological and linguistic tricks advertisers, marketing teams and politicians commonly use to manipulate people. It was fascinating stuff and it has served me well over the years. I don’t know if kids these days are even taught how to discern fact from fiction, or how to perceive when they’re being purposefully manipulated.

  9. SpaceMonkey 10

    What skills are required…?

    Discernment. Though how do you develop that skill in a sea of fake news and propaganda?

    • save nz 10.1

      I guess the standard seems to be basic reading so future workers can handle written instructions for machinery or PR, but not so good as to be able to rise up and challenge the status quo.

      Basic maths to be able to work the tills, but not enough to work out that they are being cheated through incorrect holiday pay calculations…

      Enough initiative to be able to make it to work, but not enough to try to change things for the better.

  10. Ad 11

    I think we simply have to accept that there are lots of stupid people that vote, and they are entitled to vote about dumb things in a dumb way and generate really dumb results because they have neither the brains nor the inclination to figure anything complex out like policy implications, and simply emote about peripheral things, with the rest being up to political parties and leaders to do a competent and persuasive job of campaigning.

    Hasn’t it always been like that?

    • ropata 11.1

      Yes, but the unreasonable idealists on this forum expect a government that works for the people rather than themselves. Is that too much to ask?

    • Colonial Viper 11.2

      That kind of undeserved intellectual arrogance will see your political side out of power for a generation.

      • Ad 11.2.1

        Oh no, we have all political sides of dumb. And arrogant. I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to presume that just because one side won that they were right. That would be a silly conclusion.

        I would prefer if only the really bright people with good facts and useful forecasts ran things, but then you still have to go through this tedious voting thing.

        The public capacity to affect change has shrunk so much in the last three decades that you have to allow for a few occasional democratic burps to let the indigestion out.

        I mean, it’s a natural lefty impulse to want change, huge change, whether it’s actually good or not. That’s not a cakemix for anything good happening.

        • Colonial Viper 11.2.1.1

          I would prefer if only the really bright people with good facts and useful forecasts ran things, but then you still have to go through this tedious voting thing.

          You mean that tedious “democracy thing.”

          Really bright people with lots of qualifications from great universities working in the great institutions of the world putting out their complex forecasts and projections have fucked the planet and lied through their teeth to the public, Ad.

          Ordinary people started to notice that years ago. And that this elite preference for rule by technocrats was mostly delivering shite.

          Also people started to notice the hypocrisy of liberal attitudes, where despite all the identity politics BS about the importance of equality and every person having worth and listening to minority viewpoints, they clearly believe themselves that only certain agreeable voices should count.

          • Psycho Milt 11.2.1.1.1

            Thank you for illustrating Michael Gove’s “People have had enough of experts” comment and embodying an example of the kind of people who’ve had enough of experts. For most of us, people who know things are better to get advice from than people who don’t know things.

            • Colonial Viper 11.2.1.1.1.1

              I’ve already written about the Intellectual Yet Idiot class. If you want to get advice from experts, fine. But it helps if they can deadlift.

              • Andre

                You, of all people, putting up that post gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for reminding me.

              • Ad

                Deadlifting! Manual labour! Those old rustbelt things. No point getting fresh analysis poured into the ears of deadlifters full of steroids.

                I like qualifications. Analysts. People who have sat tests and passed. Granted, good analysis can always get screwed by politics. But that’s politics. And no, they won’t save the world. Not by themselves. But try saving it without them.

                Overall, we’ve sneered at intellectuals and non-dumb people for far too long in New Zealand, so we applaud people who do dumb things, have a ‘make dumb things’ economy, enjoy dumb things to a world class level like getting ridiculously drunk and drugged, and beating the living crap out of each other because too many of us get angry at dumb things, and spectacularly dumb levels of imprisonment as a result, have a generally dumbed-down MSM, are proud of sports that are really high in ‘deadlift’ skills and really low in …hmmm … innovation, are unlikely to improve out of doing more dumb things, need to import non-dumb people to work here, and as a result are rewarded with politicians and media and employers and managers and customers who are likewise dumb.

                So as a collective, we vote dumb.

                You can keep your bicep curls CV.
                I’m running with the nerds.

                • lprent

                  I’m afraid that anyone sneering at my non-dumbness is accountable for any resulting backlash. I’m not a “show the other cheek” kind of person.

                  I also don’t hold myself to be responsible for the resulting hurt feelings. I do sometimes find it amusing to get the barb at the appropriate level. For instance I have found with most trolls that pointing out their penile insecurities mixed in with criticism of their intellect tends to be the most effective at modifying behaviour one way or another (yes they really are that shallow – male adolescents come in all ages I guess).

            • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1.1.1.2

              Thing is, most of the ‘experts’ that are listened to (It’s mostly a really small clique) have been taught the wrong stuff and so things get worse rather than better after our politicians listen to them.

              If our politicians listened to the right experts carbon emissions would have been declining, if not stopped completely already, for the last 25 years.

              Guess which bunch of people that they’ve been listening to instead.

              • McFlock

                Well, there’s confirmation bias at play as well.
                I vaguely recall a documentary that looked at the rise of neoliberalism (chicago school economics, etc) in the seventies and eighties – there were a number of non-fanatic economists who were simply working through problems, building models, etc. Their models supported neoliberalism at the time, so thatcher and reagan were inviting them over for chats, that sort of thing. Then their research moved on and began to suggest that the earlier models were inaccurate in the medium to longer term, and that neoliberalism was actually harmful over longer periods. The invitations to chat dried up, but the policies continued.

                Close to the end of that doco, one of the economists said something along the lines that what really kept him up at night was that what the tories were after wasn’t research-based policy to find the best outcomes, but simply the excuse to implement policies that favoured their longer term class interests.

                Sort of how a judas goat might feel if it figured everything out one day…

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Close to the end of that doco, one of the economists said something along the lines that what really kept him up at night was that what the tories were after wasn’t research-based policy to find the best outcomes, but simply the excuse to implement policies that favoured their longer term class interests.

                  I’d agree with that. I’ve said similar myself. That economics as taught in schools and universities today is nothing more than a justification for capitalism despite the fact that it’s causing serious damage both to our society and our world.

          • greywarshark 11.2.1.1.2

            CV
            You manage to enrage everyone. Seems very democratic. But partly because you assert some things so strongly when whatever it is, is only part of the problem. Like experts, we know they come in all sizes, some bought and paid for long ago judiciously picking out the bits of science that suit their purposes.

            But we listen to them only half the time anyway, so if the wrong scientists are heard, that don’t try to be objective, and who aren’t careful to divide their findings into short, medium with a long term hypothesis, then all get splattered with egg.

            • In Vino 11.2.1.1.2.1

              Sorry, greywarshark – CV does not enrage me, and I know I am not alone. I notice that CV never gets worked up and vitriolic towards his decriers – he hands out another contrary piece of information which gets them all foaming at the mouth even more.

              To my mind, more fools those who get upset. If CV can stay level-headed and stick to putting forward info/argument, why can’t the Greek Chorus who now seem to be baying for his blood?

              I agree with Garibaldi that PR, Chuck, James, etc (the brigade of RW trolls) are a far greater problem than CV. I find him refreshingly different, and dislike the rigidity of the ‘party line’ group.

              • Andre

                One of many problems with CV is he’s in the habit of putting up some piece of bullshit from one of his alt-right faves like Alex Jones, then people will go to the effort of debunking it. A short time later he’ll put up exactly the same piece of bullshit, maybe even as soon as the next day, as if the debunking never happened.

                That’s just outright disrespectful trolling, even if he’s using polite level-headed words to do it. It’s not presenting a different viewpoint, it’s trying to turn the conversation here into a filthy mess. And it’s worked.

                • In Vino

                  Was it really and truly debunked, or just decried by people who disliked it? The latter has been my perception. Maybe you need better debunkers.

                  I still see PR etc as far more annoying trollers. They foil intelligent debate. CV offers better than that, but collects all the ire. And those who pour personal abuse also foil intelligent debate.

                • greywarshark

                  Andre
                  I must look up Alex Jones, I have only seen him mentioned recently. See what he’s made of?

                  I thought for a while that CV had got a really good handle on things generally but then noticed that his comments often seemed to generate more heat than light. There seems much dogmatism that doesn’t allow much mind movement. You may be correct in your summary.

                  • Andre

                    To save you a bit of looking, this article contains a clip of one of Alex Jones’ more entertaining rants.

                    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/10/13233338/alex-jones-trump-clinton-demon

                    That’s just a taster. There’s many hours of “wtf, there really are people like this?” wonder to be found with just a simple google of Alex Jones Infowars.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Alex Jones goes off on wild tangents at times, yes. It’s entertaining and he is sincere. Despite the odd over the top moment he also has a lot of good insightful material which the mainstream media will never cover.

                      His coverage on how it was a strong possibility that the Podesta DNC wikileaks emails were provided to Assange by DC insiders for instance. And not ‘the Reds under the Bed’ as the Clinton campaign was so avidly smearing Trump with.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    greywarshark –

                    There has only been one side of this debate i.e. the hardline Clinton Preferrers, who have been busy name calling Trump (in various combinations and permutations) a racist misogynist bigotted anti-Semitic literally new Hitler who is going to lead the USA into a new age of dark Tyranny/dictatorship.

                    Not to mention repeated calls of Trump being a useful idiot/puppet of Russia and of President Putin.

                    To me, these comments should make it clear to you who the real dogmatists and closed minded idealogues are.

                    I found an article on Consortium News which addresses some relevant points around US corporate media hysteria and “fake news”.

                    Wilful misconceptions of the Russian media landscape and American neo-McCarthyism

                    Dr. Doctorow has launched an important conversation in light of the release of yet another alarmist media report, this time by a British neoconservative group named (oddly) after a long deceased Democratic Senator from Washington State (Henry “Scoop” Jackson), which seeks to stifle debate on Russia policy in the West by smearing dissenters from the Russia-bashing conventional wisdom as “Putin’s useful idiots.”

                    Doctorow’s experience with the Russian media therefore serves a double use: to combat willful Western misconceptions of the Russian media landscape as well as to serve as a useful point of comparison with U.S. media outlets and their coverage of Russia.

                    If we take the example of the purportedly liberal cable news outlet MSNBC, we find, paradoxically, that the hard-right neoconservative stance toward Russia goes virtually unopposed. Regarding Russia, in comparison with their principal center-left cable news rival CNN, which, to its credit occasionally makes room for the minority “detente” point of view, MSNBC leaves about as much room for dissent as the Soviet-era Pravda – actually, perhaps less.

                    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/11/23/the-wests-media-delusions/

                    • greywarshark

                      Well
                      That’s an answer or two-in-one from Andre and CV. Thanks I will read them when I have done some of the mundane things I have to do to meet expectations of me in real life.

                      And it is important to read, around and behind all the events and opinions that come up – just not dismiss them because that is fastest and choose the one that fits in with one’s current line of thought. In a topsy-turvy world it is necessary to shake the kaleidoscope up every day and look at the new patterns. And listen to Slavoj Zizek just to get used to seeing your most strongly held opinions rubbished.

                      People who are devil’s advocates are very annoying at that, shakes one’s inner self uncomfortably. Sort of like an earthquake, where you are left to find today’s new-normal, but that doesn’t stop you looking for some firm ground, a place to stand where there is a little elevation, so you can see further across the landscape and watch for other possible trouble.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      which also reminds me, greywarshark: (sorry to keep you busy) but here is Slavoj Žižek making comments on RT (oh! A Russian propaganda channel!) on how he views the Trump election victory.

                    • greywarshark

                      Thanks CV I see it is 20 mins so I’ll save it for pudding.
                      I am glad for the resilience of Slavoj otherwise the headline might read How Trump and US elections broke down Slavoj. It is only the strongest who have been able to last the course trying to keep a sharp mind clear head etc while all the USA laughing gas circulated.

                      Tom Lehrer never imagined the extent of the verbal pollution when he turned his ironic attention to pollution. Trump fitted one of his lines “Hot and cold running crud”. See link below for quick laugh important for health.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      chur, greywarshark…and then there is the lead poisoning of the water in Flint Michigan!

  11. Puckish Rogue 12

    Is this any worse then so-called real media that get things wrong and make their own lies up?

  12. However, fewer schools now have librarians, who traditionally taught research skills.

    Yes. It’s not “media literacy,” it’s “information literacy,” which is what school librarians were there for. And the putzes who declared librarians superfluous did so on the basis that everything’s supposedly online now. Well, yeah, exactly – everything is, including a metric shit-tonne of fake “news.” Too bad their kids don’t know the difference and nobody’s teaching them the difference.

    • In Vino 13.1

      People are still trying to teach then, PM… but many kids don’t want to listen. They assume they know it all.. The intelligent ones with good attitude listen and learn. How do we fight the negative attitude that other intelligent ones have to such listening/learning?

      I know – we will privatise Education so that we are not responsible for it any more.

  13. Carolyn_nth 14

    Fake news is everywhere – not necessarily misinformation, just clickbait and ratings-fodder: look at the main pages for Stuff and the NZ Herald – endless sports stuff, celebrity chatter, crime sensationalism, etc.

    On TV1 News, regular Royals-watch slots, more crime sensationalism, sports stuff, celebrity chatter, eye-catching vids, little depth.

    So, there needs to be more and better public service media, with more attention to evidence-based, in-depth news and current events and critique – building a reputation for sound news.

    • Robertina 14.1

      Nah, it’s different. This WashPost piece which gives a bit of an insight into the methods, cynicism and utter amorality of a couple of practitioners:
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/for-the-new-yellow-journalists-opportunity-comes-in-clicks-and-bucks/2016/11/20/d58d036c-adbf-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html

      • Carolyn_nth 14.1.1

        Different but not unrelated to the faux news that has dominated our main MSM platforms in NZ in recent years, and some of the more tabloid types of news sites overseas. It is into and/or in relation to that faux news environment and culture, that fake news has been able to thrive.

        • Robertina 14.1.1.1

          That’s a bit like saying fake news is different but not unrelated to satirical news, when most of us view them very differently.
          Trivial or sensational news is related in that it’s increased for the same reason as fake news thrives – technology and the fracturing of media.
          Someone on FB had a nice line – we live in the age of the electronic pamphleteer.

          • Carolyn_nth 14.1.1.1.1

            Trivial or sensational news is related in that it’s increased for the same reason as fake news thrives – technology and the fracturing of media.

            It’s partly that, but also the corporatisation of media, and in NZ and the UK, the undermining and/or weakening of public service media. The corporatisation has increased the amalgamation of media ownership into big conglomerates, even as there has been fracturing in other ways.

            This is part of the “neoliberalisation” of culture. So this adds to the superficial acceptance of much that is read or viewed, with limited critique or fact checking.

            Technology is not some dehumanised influence on behaviour. it is embedded in cultural processes.

            Satire does tend to add a critical element to media reception, so not so similar to fake news, IMO.

            • Robertina 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Yeah, the technology we use is not dehumanised and is embedded in the every day – who would claim otherwise these days when everyone with a computer has become a publisher of sorts?
              The new Adam Curtis film HyperNormalisation is worth a watch.

              • Carolyn_nth

                Yeah, the technology we use is not dehumanised and is embedded in the every day –

                Agreed – and its also embedded in, or created through cultural processes, and past practices – with all their biases.

                Our media and social media tend not to encourage a lot of fact/source checking and critical reasoning – the skills needed to be able to sort out fake from truthful news. Partly this is because they go for the easy attention-getting, emotion and visual laden content.

                Human’s tend to be dominated by our visual sense, often over-riding other sensory info.

                Mainstream journalists tend to have less time for fact checking…. and misinformation does get re-cycled by them. And politicians increasingly aim for emotional impact and spin – it’s all inter-related.

                How to overcome that?

                Some of the critical skills are taught in schools. But it seems, many people don’t carry that over to their engagement with online “news”.

                I agree with Anthony (in his post) that uni courses that encourage critical thinking about culture, society, politics, etc (humanities and social sciences) not be axed.

                But also we, especially in NZ, need robust public service media that focus on serving the public interest, presenting factual and critical content, and are not tied to the commercial logic of click-bait and ratings.

  14. greywarshark 15

    I have just read the summary of the post and agree strongly with you AR.
    I did some late tertiary study and still have one of the books on Critical Thinking which taught me in the first few pages about 100% more than I already knew.

    A Danish chap talking on radionz this a.m. about the difference between learning and education made some good points. Hearing the frequent dictum that everybody needs to have lifelong learning is something that raises his hackles. He made the point that we learn what interests us or that we need but education teaches us things we haven’t even thought that we might need, and also I guess how to imagine what might be out there to learn.
    and

    The Politics of Learning
    From Nine To Noon, 9:35 am today
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=201824977
    Listen duration 14′ :28″
    Kathryn talks to Professor Gert Biestra from Brunel University in London argues that we are increasingly being spurred to become lifelong learners as a way of producing the outcomes the global economy needs – not what the individual needs. He calls it the “learnification of education”.

    also
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=201824969
    Steer clear of private online schools, US experts warn
    From Morning Report, 8:55 am today 3’25”
    A bill to set up online schools in NZ is currently before the Education and Science Select Committee; but academics from the US are warning against the proposal.

    Without my tertiary education I just wouldn’t be able to process the info received in my brain, analyse it, and get understanding of this world. How many other people left school 40 or 50+ years ago and have had little further formal education about other than directly vocational subjects. How can we solve problems, decide on which outcome or representative, dream up useful and practical new approaches when we haven’t the tools to tap into stats and other resources, and methods of forming theories and how to view the boffins and blowhards trying to insert their ideas into our belief system?

    • Molly 15.1

      Hi greywarshark,
      Do you have the title of that book on critical thinking?

      • greywarshark 15.1.1

        Molly
        I will get back to you on that. Just have to unearth it.

      • greywarshark 15.1.2

        Hello Molly
        If this has taken a while it is partly due to my inability to get round to confronting my computer program and find out what happens if I update it, and then do it.

        Anyway found the book- it is old if I have it. My edition 1986 called Practical Reasoning in natural language by Stephen Naylor Thomas.
        On page 43 it gives a piece from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.
        The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, rather than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

        (Seems simplistic and overly idealistic. Knee jerk reaction from me.)
        Then S.N.Thomas looks for the argument. What is established and the reasons? Looking for assertions ‘the only freedom that is genuine etc’. Conclusions. Justification. How does it work then, some of Thomas’ reasoning:

        ‘If we suppose that Mill believes that if each individual person acts so as to maximise his or her own well-being, the good of mankind as a whole will also be maximised, then the second sentence provides a reason for the third’.

  15. Andre 16

    The HuffPo 30-seconds to read “Spotting Fake News for Dummies” piece.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fake-news-guide-facebook_us_5831c6aae4b058ce7aaba169

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      Most of the shite HuffPo has been putting out for the last month has been Clinton endorsing Fake News.

  16. Ovid 17

    I’ve just started reading The News: a user’s manual by Alain de Botton. Interesting quote:

    A contemporary dictator wishing to establish power would not need to do anything so obviously sinister as banning the news: he or she would only have to see to it that news organisations broadcast a flow of random-sounding bulletins, in great numbers but with little explanation of context, within an agenda that kept changing, without giving any sense of the ongoing relevance of an issue that seemed pressing only a short while before, the whole interspersed with constant updates about the colourful antics of murderers and film stars. This would be quite enough to undermine most people’s capacity to grasp political reality – as well as any resolve they might otherwise have summoned to alter it. The status quo could confidently remain forever undisturbed by a flood of, rather than a ban on, news.

    • Gristle 17.1

      How safe is John Key?

      Reports from APEC of PM Key telling Mark Zuckerburg that Facebook needed to pay more taxes, while Zuckerburg was telling the APEC leaders that Facebook should/would/could take greater steps moderating (false) news.

      One reading is that Zuckerburg was flexing his political muscle and pointing out the power of his media. Meanwhile PM Key is goading the dragon.

      Imagined watercooler conversation at Facebook.
      “Why not undertake a ‘pilot study’ and see how far Facebook can move an election result.”
      “We could always have 3rd parties create the false news, all we have to do is relax the moderation in that geographic area.”
      “That’s true, but where?”
      “What was that small country whose leader was lecturing me about tax at APEC?”

  17. save nz 18

    Spinoff is one of the worst offenders of ‘fake news’ and ‘sponsored content’. – more propaganda on the housing crisis…

    Q&A special: An AUT expert answers your questions about the housing crisis

    By John Tookey
    November 2, 2016 | Sponsored content

    John Tookey’s sponsored views include releasing more land, building material prices are irrelevant, immigration not mentioned, and neither is the sale of state houses. Oh by the way.. the last question

    “What do you think of the Labour Party’s housing plan? – Jean Jeanie

    Too little, too late. Sorry. Facts do not care about feelings. We are where we are now. Policy has to reflect the possible and affordable at the point of implementation. My sense is that if the economy hit the skids such that Labour would be elected, then any of the policy ideas would not be affordable or credible at that point of time. I would expect ‘mission creep‘ at that point.”

    • Robertina 18.1

      Oh dear. I knew this thread would become swamped by people conflating everything they don’t like about the media with fake news.
      The Spin Off is not a purveyor of fake news.

      • Psycho Milt 18.1.1

        False equivalence is a popular pastime – there are a few examples on this thread.

      • Carolyn_nth 18.1.2

        save_nz is focusing on sponsored content. The post above that started this discussion is asking about the skills needed in the age of fake news. In the post there’s a quote about some people not being able to tell sponsored from non sponsored content. This is the bit quoted in the post:

        Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.

        Fake news didn’t suddenly appear from somewhere. The skills many people are using, as indicated in the quote, have arisen in a context where news sites and media focus a lot on visual content.

        I have read other articles focusing on how fake news thrives in a context where there is a lack, or limited amount of sites that people can easily refer to as factual and well-sourced/evidence-based news.

        • Robertina 18.1.2.1

          No, save nz is not ”focusing on sponsored content”, they’re focused on slagging off the Spin Off by conflating fake news with sponsored content.

          They said this:
          ”Spinoff is one of the worst offenders of ‘fake news’ and ‘sponsored content’..”

          The Spin Off is scrupulous at labelling sponsored content.
          Thus, the Spin Off does not run fake news.
          I don’t need to be convinced that sponsored content is a not an ideal thing.
          But people have to eat, and they want to find a way to fund a platform that can run content like this:
          http://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland-2016/22-09-2016/public-service-announcement-the-nz-property-market-can-be-hazardous-to-your-health/

          Some outlets don’t label sponsored content and then it is fake news.
          But the discussion recently has been about politically rather than commercially focused fake news.
          One actual fake news headline was ”Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump”, which is objectively false.
          A particular kind of environment made fake news thrive, but it still differs from the slanted or shrill coverage we might also critique.

  18. save nz 19

    I’ll leave Roberta’s opinion of Spinoff up to the critically thinking individual to decide … is this ‘real’ news or is this vacuous content for advertising and endorsements…

    Shortland Street Power Rankings: The best Chris Warner week since 1992

    Is this new Metallica atrocity the worst album cover ever?

    This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.

    This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $417 on average, which would buy enough nappies for months… and months. Please support us by switching to them right now.

    The Spinoff’s science content is made possible thanks to the support of The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a national institute devoted to scientific research.

  19. save nz 20

    One of Natz favourite tricks is too control all the sources of media who all say the same things – making it look like that is the ‘truth’ and lure the punters in with click bait stories.

    I think you might be better to go to the no frills http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint

  20. greywarshark 21

    HI MOD
    If you see this could you get my goodies out of the larder thanks. I will get onto dealing with the issue soon.

  21. Ant 22

    Simply not possible for the voting masses to gain anything like an inclusive/balanced point of view as it would require careful pondering of articles by the likes of Chomsky, Pilger, Greenwald, MediaLens, Truthout (all pretty thick reading) etc, and weighing them up against the standard propaganda of MSM. Relatively few earthlings have the time, inclination or will to go there.

    So democracy operates on hype, spin and deception, and (as commentators here have oftentimes repeated) it is within the fiscal interests of the media corporations to maintain Orwellian polarizations, fear and heady patriotism.

  22. McFlock 23

    To take a slightly different tack, maybe the issue is simply a delay in social mores catching up with the technology.

    When newspapers emerged they went through a period of “yellow journalism” that eventually got whittled down into the tabloid/broadsheet respective audiences.

    Facebook and other social media created a scandal-of-the-moment kerfuffle and privacy concerns, but as generations adapt less gets shared publicly and people are probably going to become more accepting of occasional imperfection online.

    Currently, some online platforms are beginning to face pressure to at least limit the conflation of fake/false “news” with more objective, verifiable news sources in searches and feeds.

    Yes, silos are an issue, but then they always have been – people have always selected the sources that please them.

  23. polly tickle 24

    I thought I had seen that the story about the ” controversial cleric ” came from wo. That should ring fake news alarm bells, even with msm

  24. Clump_AKA Sam 25

    Just share your concerns and expect a reply like adults. And respect no one who masturbates all over threads until they are satisfied

  25. Henry Filth 26

    “What skills do we need in the age of fake news”

    Judgement. Discernment. What more do you need?

    From (say) the UK, I read The Daily Telegraph and know it’s “editorial policy”, I read The Guardian and know it’s “editorial policy”.

    Judgement and discernment.

  26. Cinny 27

    What skills do we need in the age of fake news?

    Do your own research across ALL sources, don’t live in an echo chamber, talk to people involved. Ask questions, read comments. Research the company/media whom the news is coming from.

    Last night was watching AlJazeera, they did a segment on the TPPA falling over, had 3 guest speakers. Not one word that I heard was mentioned about the outgoing PM or about NZ. It showed a bit of footage of the signing deal in Auckland, that’s it.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2016/11/donald-trump-tpp-trade-deal-161122172448045.html

    Meanwhile NZ media is telling us how the outgoing PM claims he is doing this and that on the world stage and at APEC re the TPPA, but turns out international media feel that he is so unimportant that he dose not even get a mention. Isn’t that interesting. lololz good example of a bit of ‘fake’ or rather embellished news via mainstream NZ media.

    • greywarshark 27.1

      A healthy dose of cynicism. It is necessary these days. Check and check again on what you hear, see and read also on what you know, think you know, your beliefs, and whether they are good or actually mean, self-serving and ultimately, impractical.
      Bring reason and positive emotions into every thought.

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