Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Tag Archives: mainstream media

How Mainstream Media Contributed to the Misinformation Wars

CNN superfoods

There is a current social battle being fought about the nature of facts and reality. Truth is under attack because of ignorance and apathy. Fake news are being spread as real events, misleading millions of people into believing things that never happened. “Alternative facts” are being pushed as equally as legitimate as scientific and statistical facts in a fit of postmodernist relativism. Technological filter bubbles skew the world you see on the Internet and isolate you from information that contradicts your beliefs. There are now even fake fact-checkers who try to leach credibility from real fact-checkers just like pseudoscience parasitizes on real science.

A great deal of this comes from fake news websites, pseudoscience activists, various quacks and cranks as well as other sources. But some of it comes from mainstream media. The mainstream media has spent years being complacent about the threat of misinformation and let low-quality material and bad journalistic standards fester and spread across their own websites and networks. This article looks at four prominent ways this has and continues to occur and proposes five directions that might mitigate some of the problems we now face.

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“Alternative Facts” Are Really Just Misinformation

Alternative facts

During the 2016 Presidential Election process, there was a near complete disregard for what was true (post-truth) and a massive surge in the promotion of false and misleading news items that pretended to the true (fake news). This was further amplified by the viral spread of sensationalist nonsense on social media. Even worse, many of those systems were run by mindless algorithms designed to monetize individual preferences and feed their users information that conformed to their own ideological biases (social media filter bubble). Together, this has become known as the misinformation wars.

Many of these things are not new and has plagued scientists, doctors, skeptics and other science advocates for many years. However, there was decidedly a massive surge that happened in recent years. People and groups that promote pseudoscience and bigotry managed to manipulate the mainstream media into giving them a ton attention and free publicity. These groups could then counter by spreading demonstrably false narratives in their filter bubbles to build what was and is essentially an anti-reality grassroot movement.

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