FAKE NEWS


fake-news-1

You’ll have to decide whether this post is peddling ‘fake news’, or not.

It’s all the rage, apparently. The population of the developed world is now being duped, to a greater or lesser extent, by fake news, or so we’re told. Hence – some people argue – the majority of those who voted in the referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union fell victim to fake news – and we got the wrong result: Brexit.

Over the pond, we’re being led to believe much the same happened in the United States presidential election. There, fake news ruled the day and, OMG, look who’s now in the White House. However, let’s not forget that The Donald is not averse to crying ‘fake news!’ when it suits him.

According to The Guardian newspaper (and I’m not sure from where they got this news), fake news is defined as being ‘completely made up and designed to deceive readers in order to maximise traffic and profit’. On the other hand, according to Webopedia, which purports to keep us all ‘up to date with the latest developments in internet terminology’, fake news is defined as ‘false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news. Fake news websites and channels push their fake news content in an attempt to mislead consumers of the content and spread misinformation via social networks and word-of-mouth’.

So, one of those definitions declares fake news to be peddled primarily for commercial advantage; the other definition implies that fake news is deliberate propaganda – lying for a purpose. Which of those definitions you prefer, you decide. There’s a third category of fake news, of course: the piss-takers, or satire as it’s more politely known. I’m talking about the likes of The Daily Mash, NewsThump, The Onion and their ilk. Private Eye has been doing fake news for more than 50 years.

It seems to me that the fake news debate is not really about fake news, per se; it’s actually about the gullibility of the human race. During the EU Referendum campaign a Facebook friend of mine expressed outrage when I shared a Daily Mash post, he believing that The Daily Mash was a bona fide purveyor of news – until I pointed out that The Daily Mash was in fact a spoof news website. He’d have figured it out for himself, I’m sure, but the point remains: we’re all gullible to some extent, even if that gullibility is short-lived.

The fake news debate has a subtler hue also. It’s about whether in democracies one vote should carry more weight than another. Recently, the BBC made a big deal of pointing out that from a survey of one-in-nine voting wards (is that a valid survey?), people who voted for the UK to Leave the European Union had fewer educational qualifications than those who voted Remain.

The sly, subliminal BBC message was that somehow the Leave majority was flawed. After all, surely the votes of the more educationally qualified members of the voting public were more valid than the votes cast by the relatively thick members of society? The BBC was inviting us to conclude tacitly that, ergo, Brexit was the wrong result. I listened to the BBC reporting on this survey until I started to feel queasy, and so switched off the wireless. As far as I was concerned, the BBC was peddling fake news.

And that’s the point. If one accepts for a moment that fake news is indeed a problem; that fake news is skewing political discourse in free societies (by the way, this subject is utterly irrelevant to more than half the global population who are denied free speech), then who’s going to set themselves up as the Global Thought Police? Who’s to say that the BBC is any more trustworthy than The Daily Mash, or Russia Today, or WTOE 5 News who, you’ll recall, reported that the Pope had endorsed the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. I exaggerate slightly for effect; however, my point is that it is not axiomatic that because it’s broadcast by the BBC or some other supposedly worthy news institution, it’s true.

In the UK for the past half-generation or so we’ve lived with fake news without making too much of a song and dance about it. I’m referring, of course, to the fake news invented by the Labour Party parading itself as ‘New Labour’ and developing and mastering the art of ‘spin’. Eamonn Butler is Director of the Adam Smith Institute, an apolitical institution which is consistently ranked in international surveys as the leading think-tank on matters of economics and freedom. In his book, ‘The Rotten State of Britain’, Dr Butler observes that New Labour’s ‘slick presentation was key to their electoral landslide in 1997. But this same obsession with presentation, and the seeming willingness to sacrifice truth for its sake, has come to make the public question whether they can actually trust a word that politicians say.’

In this context, sacrificing truth for presentation is spin; spin is lying; lying is fake news. The political class has been spinning for a quarter-century (if not forever), so it’s a bit rich for politicians and others with vested interests to now start ranting and raving about the supposedly new phenomenon of fake news – however outrageous the fakery.

Let’s get back to fake news, Brexit and Donald Trump for a moment. The UK’s EU Referendum campaign and the US presidential election campaign were each marked by a defining theme: immigration. More specifically, there was a view in quarters of each of the British and American electorates that immigration was out of control and that the unfettered movement of Muslims in particular was posing an existential threat to those societies. To the Left/Liberal end of the political spectrum this was shocking prejudice. Indeed, the mighty Left/Liberal institutions of the UK and the US swung into action and fought hammer and tongs to swing the debate, to persuade the uneducated bigots that immigration was, by and large, a societal good.

Part of the Left/Liberal argument was that fake news was corrupting the debate and deceiving what would otherwise be a minority of voters into becoming a majority of ill-informed voters. Notwithstanding, come the day – 23 June 2016 in the UK and 8 November 2016 in the USA – the majority of voters in the UK and in the USA (under the electoral college system) did indeed shun the righteous indignation of the liberal classes and chose the contrary options: Brexit and Donald Trump respectively.

One wonders, therefore, was the immigration issue founded upon real or fake news? Prior to President Trump issuing his infamous Executive Order temporarily suspending immigration to the US from 7 named countries (suspect countries identified by President Obama as it happens), Chatham House, aka The Royal Institute of International Affairs, conducted a survey ‘What do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?’  The survey comprised responses from over 10,000 people in 10 European countries – a little more credible than the survey which attracted the BBC, to which I referred earlier. According to Chatham House, the results of their survey were ‘striking and sobering’.

Respondents were given the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed. Majorities in all but 2 of the 10 states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain. In no country did the percentage that disagreed exceed 32%.

Now, what should one take from these results in the great fake news debate?

Well, the people of those 10 European states could have been, and presumably are continuing to be spectacularly deceived by fake news, such fake news whipping up unfounded concerns about migration from mainly Muslim countries and showing just how gullible people can be. This would be the Left/Liberal interpretation – hence them taking to the streets waving placards telling us how overwhelmingly in favour of immigration they are, and how nasty, fascist and Islamophobic it is even to question immigration.

On the other hand, it could be that the citizens of those 10 European states – of whom, remember, no more than 32% disagreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped – are not gullible at all. It could be that, when all’s said and done, most people aren’t taken in by fake news, or at least that fake news isn’t the game-changing influence on public opinion that some people think it is. Maybe the Brexit and Trump outcomes were genuine reflections of rationally founded public opinion (shock! horror!). If you don’t concur with that last sentence, you can only really be of the view that the mass migration of people of the Islamic faith towards Europe is some sort of hoax, or of little consequence.

Doubtless a proportion of society falls for fake news hook, line and sinker. But some of us have greater faith in our fellow human beings than others (those others being the ‘liberal’, placard-waving street protesters perhaps). The next time you see a report in the mainstream media alleging that fake news is contaminating the workings of free speech, check out who’s making the allegation and look for the underlying political agenda.

Meantime, forget the Global Thought Police. Let’s keep it with us the voters to decide what is news and how we assimilate it. If the news is fake, then let’s see the profession of journalism stepping up to the plate and engaging in the disinterested pursuit of truth and the discipline of verification. Now that would be something, eh BBC?

 

12 comments

  1. Thanks for the article, a sobering read in a world that is way, way, way, out of control not just the populations the “liberal globalist elites” I now call “Sorosites” for no better a name.

    The thing about fake news it stems from actions of somebody’s somewhere that a reasonable number disagree with in some way. With a small modicum of truth embedded within it no matter how small and the bit to discern. Above a certain level it gets a threshold of support and then it starts exponentially growing out of control. You cannot close the Pandora’s box until the truth is in fact stated.

    On BREXIT, for me the real truth … only 2 ways to ever cede sovereignty and smash a constitution, war (hence the threatening intervention from Obama) or 100% of the population voting for it (your referendum) because you all commit the crime and hence can be no crime as all guilty. I will leave others to figure out for themselves why this was needed and it is not pretty.

    I could say more there really is no point, I like many others are now starting to think just let the Sorosites win, turn us all into real slaves.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Superb article, MM – one of your very best, and an important contribution to the debate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Tim. Let’s keep up the socio-economic pressure!

      Like

  3. […] Source: FAKE NEWS […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David Norman · ·

    Wonderful stuff from both Moraymint and Dominic Lawson. Dare I say though that they both seem to miss a simple point. The research shows that older people mostly voted for Brexit while the majority of younger people were remainers. Because, over the last couple of decades, much larger proportions of young people have taken A levels and gone on to university young people appear on paper to be better educated than older people. Needless to say this point was overlooked by the BBC as well.

    This is not the place to go into the issue of whether educational standards have dropped over the years; suffice it to say that in my opinion the view that young people are better educated is almost certainly a myth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks David. Younger people are not better educated. They’re indoctrinated, per the plan for the European superstate. The UK is getting out of the EU by the skin of its teeth, and in the nick of time …

      Like

    2. Another thing about young people is they don’t know how comfortable things were before the Great Deception.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A top Moraymint article: bang on the money, thank you.

    A book I much recommend showing the past Malthusian/Darwinian/Eugenicist atrocities of the malevolent & idiot elites running the Western world:
    Merchants of Despair, by Robert Zubrin.
    Also details how progress through clean & safe nuclear power is being suppressed, through fake news, regulators & bureaucrats.
    Zubrin is a PhD nuclear engineer with 9 patents to his name or pending.
    He often refers to economist Julian Simon’s most valuable book, The Ultimate Resource 2, which I also thoroughly recommend.
    The Ultimate Resource is Human Ingenuity, & mankind’s future is very possibly one of limitless prosperity & expansion through the Universe.

    John Doran.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks for the reading recommendations, John …

      Like

  6. Old Goat · ·

    Good piece, thank you. As one of the aging thickos who voted (abroad) for Brexit, I heartily concur with your thoughts. I never have anything to do with the usual crap-laden broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4, Sky, etc., etc.) or the usual suspects in the world of newspapers, preferring, instead, to garner my news from more reliable sources, who have been proved accurate in the past. The lies and bias of the MSM sickens me. I suppose the vast majority of your average viewer/reader/listener only listen to the “regular” broadcasters, and either the “news” thus imparted goes largely unheard (background noise), or unquestioned (because it’s the BBC, and they must be right), and so never use their initiative, and check somewhere else to see if what they are being told is exaggerated, embellished, half the story, or even true.

    Reposted this, on Going Postal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Old Goat.

      The situation isn’t helped by the UK’s educational institutions – at all levels – over the past generation or so failing to inculcate our young people with the skills of investigating a pluralism of ideas (however offensive), of the processes of critical review, of sense-checking and cross-referencing facts and so on. It seems to me that education today is rife with political-correctness and the need to protect snowflakes against the harsh realities of history, news and current affairs. Nobody must be hurt; nobody can be offended; the truth is relative and has to be shaped to conform to whatever makes you feel comfortable …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. From Dominic Lawson in today’s Sunday Times:

    If you weren’t listening carefully you might have thought the BBC declared last week that you had to be a thicko to have voted for Brexit. This was in a headlined report by Martin Rosenbaum.

    The BBC correspondent revealed that “a statistical analysis of the data obtained for over a thousand individual local government wards confirms how the strength of the ‘leave’ vote was strongly associated with lower educational qualifications . . . In statistical terms the level of educational qualifications explains about two-thirds of the variation in the results between different wards.”

    Rosenbaum is a studiously impartial journalist — I know because I have worked with him. But his report must have been catnip to those unreconciled remainers, reinforcing both their claims of superior understanding and their contempt for the uneducated masses who dared to vote against the settled view of almost the entire intellectual establishment.

    Or, as one of them commented, below a newspaper article calling for the “leave” vote to be thwarted by parliament: “Why should the pond life that dragged itself from the estates to the ballot box be allowed to ruin everything for the rest of us?” That contemptuous comment accidentally revealed how, on both sides, people were doing nothing more extraordinary than voting in their own interest.

    Those with lower educational qualifications were more likely to be among voters who felt pushed back in the queue for public services as a result of unchecked migration from the 27 other EU nations, or sensed that their earning power had been squeezed for similar reasons.

    Whereas the author of that comment, when speaking of “the rest of us”, might have been thinking of the ability to buy a property in Italy without paying a special tax — or of his children’s opportunity to study at a French university for the same price as the locals. In that sense, the working-class “leave” voter and the middle-class remainer are no different: both were acting rationally according to their own perceived self-interest.

    This point is worth emphasising, because so many of the latter persist in the belief that they are, exclusively, the rational ones, and it is only the other side that is unreflective — as befits its collective lack of sufficient educational qualifications.

    In reality, the herd mentality was at least as obvious within the “remain” tribe. How many of these more educated men and women had thought deeply about the nature of the institutions of the EU, studied the texts of the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, explored the composition of the European Court of Justice and read up on how the acquis communautaire works? How many could name the five presidents of the EU, and define what each of them actually does?

    I am sure the answer is: very few. Instead their thinking will have been as conditioned by group-think and sentiment as that of any of their less educated compatriots who voted for Brexit.

    In any case, it is an absurd and unhistorical notion that intellectuals and their camp-followers are incapable of foolishness when it comes to political and social attitudes.

    It is well enough known that Marxism — and the slaughters on a global scale that its followers promulgated — was a doctrine imposed on the masses. It was only a lack of proper “consciousness” on the part of the uneducated hordes that prevented them from understanding what was in their own interests, such as the need to destroy the traditional family structure, and to abolish markets because mass prosperity could be guaranteed only by full state control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    It is less well known that the Nazis’ “scientific” doctrines of racial superiority (and, ultimately, annihilation of those judged inferior) were ideas produced by highly educated men and then propagandised to the masses — who would never have had the intellectual arrogance to construct such schemes. The stories of 80 of these men, experts in fields such as linguistics, philosophy and economics, are told in Christian Ingrao’s book Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine.

    And don’t think that our own intellectuals and experts weren’t fully paid-up members of the eugenics movement — until the 1940s, when the Nazis’ grotesque experiments in this field made it suddenly unfashionable.

    It is an absurd notion that intellectuals are incapable of foolishness
    In this country eugenics was taken up by the intellectual left in the early decades of the last century, with the idea of “improving” the human race. In a courageous article a few years ago the New Statesman set out its own role, quoting an editorial it had published in 1931 in which it stigmatised the “most intransigent opponents of eugenics” as “amongst those who cling to the individualist views of parenthood and family economics”.

    It also noted how the champions of the elimination of the allegedly genetically “weak” were a Who’s Who of Britain’s leading social-democrat intellectuals, including Sidney and Beatrice Webb, John Maynard Keynes and “even . . . the Manchester Guardian”. (I love that “even”.) Indeed Bertrand Russell, commonly regarded as the most brilliant Briton of the age, had proposed that the state should issue colour-coded “procreation tickets” to stop the gene pool of the elite being diluted by inferiors.

    It was greatly to the irritation of these proponents of eugenics that their doctrine found little favour among the uneducated masses. It was fear of their resistance that inhibited government ministers impressed by the arguments and status of the advocates of the compulsory sterilisation of the genetic undesirables: those politicians suspected the masses would understand only too well that they were the targets.

    Now, back to the 21st century and the EU. As is now obvious to every politician in this country except possibly Nick Clegg and Lord Mandelson, the euro is an ideological experiment that threatens to do more damage to the economies of southern Europe than anything that has befallen those nations since 1945. Yet when it was launched, and for some years afterwards, it was simply not done in polite circles to question its legitimacy. Some economists did point out the weirdness of a currency disconnected from the demos and without any central financial and taxation authority. But they were ignored.

    This scheme was entirely the product of university-educated political elites. Unless I missed something, it was not the response to a popular groundswell of opinion across the countries of the EU against national currencies.

    In short, it was the brainchild of the types identified by Nassim Nicholas Taleb as “the intellectual yet idiot (IYI)”. As the author of The Black Swan went on to say: “The IYI pathologises others for doing things he doesn’t understand without realising it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests, and he knows their interests, particularly if they are . . . [the] English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term ‘uneducated’.”

    Dear BBC: award that man the Reith lectures.

    Liked by 4 people

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