Posts Tagged ‘lügenpresse’

2013 Was Peak SJW

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Perhaps the peak of the staggering collective mental health disorder that is Leftism, in its latest incarnation as “SJW” or “social justice warrior” cultural Leftism, occurred in 2013 with this article on the now nearly bankrupt The Guardian platform. In it, a woman bemoans how a desire to be feminine will cause her daughter to lose pride in her large bowel movements.

It is hard to tell if it is more stupid than it is manipulative. The guilt and shame oozes from this article, as does the irritating trope of the brave and sensitive woman doing everything she can for her children to raise them in a manner that contradicts the “ignorance” of the world. But then, in the final article, the fool of a writer contradicts herself:

Of course, it’s no coincidence that her current fixation with size has ballooned while we are on holiday in California…I forgot that what this country would really do to is show her size. Everything in America is so much bigger than it is at home…I watch my child taking all this in with her wide eyes, and listen to her hamming up the dimensions of her bowel movements like a Hollywood producer. Why, she really has absorbed the local culture here in Los Angeles – she takes those little poos of hers and turns them into stars.

Other than the sheer inanity of this writing, it is interesting to watch this person use a trivial event to make a dramatic entrance through virtue signaling, and then write according to the SWPL editorial format which — inspired by America’s National Public Radio — requires in every paragraph “witty” observations that seem “full of life” but are actually fully negative and hopeless.

That makes stringing together a coherent thought secondary to being entertaining for all those single women in horrible jobs out there who are right now raising their wine glasses to this article, feeling better about their poor life decisions and validated in having shared these with others.

Peak SJW came when this formula became standardized and enough people learned to do it that it inundated the media. To translate into conservative terms, it became a new market, and there were enough people to read it that it did not matter that it was dissociative drivel. Internet advertising drove the SJW revolution because newspapers became dependent on internet advertising, and on the internet, no one knows if you are a dog, or even a broke pointless basement dweller clicking furiously on Leftist propaganda to staunch the misery of a self-defeating lifestyle.

Now that several years have passed, we can look back on these days and laugh. The problem is that just as Leftism is one incarnation of Crowdism, SJW is just one incarnation of Leftism, and they will be back, probably with something that seems just as fresh and witty until you realize that it is pure manipulation, soulless and brainless to boot.

Yes, The Washington Post Really Is Fake News

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

In our world of microscopic attention spans and oversocialized lives desperate for purpose, news stories follow a predictable arc:

  1. Shocking revelation: something terrible happened; some great danger is revealed; or something very unfair and mean is happening.
  2. Mass hysteria and speculation: a headline gets shared around, the event is rapidly and all-too-neatly fit into a preferred narrative, and a mob forms (even if just an online social media mob) to retaliate and hate, because doing so is like crack to bored and anxious people.
  3. The truth comes out: after the mob disperses, or rallies to the next fake outrage, important details about the original shocking revelations come out. Previously unseen facets and particulars of the event mean that it no longer neatly fits into the preferred narrative, but almost nobody cares, because that makes it too difficult to blame the preferred cause and slip into the fun ecstatic rage.

The result is that, for the majority, only the sensational, biased, oversimplified version of the event is retained in memory, and the preferred narrative is reinforced.

The Washington Post has demonstrated this wonderfully with their fake news report on how (shocking revelation!) Russians hacked into the US electrical grid! Kalev Leetaru, a Forbes contributor, dissects this lügenpresse story:

From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.

However, it was not until almost a full hour after the utility’s official press release (at around 10:30PM EST) that the Post finally updated its article, changing the headline to the more muted “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say” and changed the body of the article to note “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.” Yet, other parts of the article, including a later sentence claiming that multiple computers at the utility had been breached, remained intact.

One might naively expect a news article title to be a short summary of the content of the article, but we see here that in practice, a title acts more as meme, a particle of communicable information that can be used to broadcast directed ideological pressure.

This is significant, as one driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.

Even after numerous stealth-edits, the Washington Post still has not made contact with reality:

Yet, even this correction is not a true reflection of public facts as known. The utility indicated only that a laptop was found to contain malware that has previously been associated with Russian hackers. As many pointed out, the malware in question is actually available for purchase online, meaning anyone could have used it and its mere presence is not a guarantee of Russian government involvement. Moreover, a malware infection can come from many sources, including visiting malicious websites and thus the mere presence of malware on a laptop computer does not necessarily indicate that Russian government hackers launched a coordinated hacking campaign to penetrate that machine – the infection could have come from something as simple as an employee visiting an infected website on a work computer.

Leetaru ends with three important points: news media organizations are not concerned with facts, they tend to simply parrot government sources, and the need for instant gratification has turned journalism into sensationalist gossip:

Putting this all together, what can we learn from this? The first is that, as with the Santa Claus and PropOrNot stories, the journalism world tends to rely far more on trust than fact checking. When one news outlet runs a story, the rest of the journalism world tends to follow suit, each writing their own version of the story without ever going back to the original sources for verification. In short – once a story enters the journalism world it spreads without further restraint as each outlet assumes that the one before performed the necessary fact checking.

The second is that the news media is overly dependent on government sources. Glenn Greenwald raises the fantastic point that journalists must be more cautious in treating the word of governments as absolute truth. Indeed, a certain fraction of the world’s false and misleading news actually comes from the mouths of government spokespeople. Yet, in the Post’s case, it appears that a government source tipped off the post about a sensational story of Russians hacking the US power grid and instead of reaching out to the utilities themselves or gathering further detail, the Post simply published the story as fed to them by the government officials.

The third is that breaking news is a source of a tremendous amount of false and misleading news as rumors and falsehoods spread like wildfire in the absence of additional information. Top tier newspapers like the Washington Post are supposed to be a bulwark against these falsehoods, by not publishing anything until it has been thoroughly fact checked against multiple sources. Yet, it appears this is not the case – in the rush to be the first to break a story and not be scooped, reporters even at the nation’s most prestigious news outlets will take shortcuts and rush a story out the door. What would have happened in the Post had waited another day or two to collect responses from all involved, including Burlington Electric? It would have avoided publishing false information, but it also likely would have been scooped by another newspaper who wanted to be the first to break the story.

All of this confirms what we’ve repeatedly observed: for most of the mainstream news media, a slick website and an aura of respectability mask the underlying ideologically motivated fake news.

Lügenpresse

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

As mentioned here before, the term Lügenpresse refers to the lying press and the media seems to be of two minds about it:

  1. Reuters calls it a “Nazi-era term,” and then admits in the article that it was from WWI.
  2. Der Spiegel reveals that the term was used as far back as the 1840s.

The difference between these two is that the Der Spiegel article came out before Richard Spencer trolled the media with it, and the Reuters article came out afterwards. If Der Spiegel had run the piece after Spencer used the term, they would have realized that The Narrative demanded they do only one thing: emphasize that anyone other than a Leftist is a Nazi if possible, and so they might have less zealously researched the word.

In other words, the proof of the Lügenpresse is that one major news source is contradicted by another, and almost no one has noticed, and possibly the only reason this is so is that the second news source, which is a highly respected but Left-leaning paper, was not yet aware of the domain of The Narrative over the term.

The dirty secret here is that the press reflects back to us who we are, and this is why we trust it. Like a person at a social gathering, it just feels right because it says things that seem about appropriate and accurate to us, socially speaking. If it were standing before us with a PBR in one hand and an American Spirit in the other, we would be nodding along to whatever bland indie band was bleating in the background.

Our blindness to the lying of the press is caused by what Michael Crichton calls the Murray Gell-Mann amnesia effect:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.

But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t.

“Wet streets cause rain.” Another way to view that is the reversed causality: “wet streets mean that it rained,” where in actuality, many things can make the streets wet. This means that the Left can perpetually blame the rain for the conditions of society, and never consider other causes, such as Leftists spraying hoses on the street.

Take for example health care. Leftists demanded socialized medicine back in the 1960s; since that did not work, they partially socialized the system with Medicare and Medicaid, and left the rest up to private industry under heavy regulation. Now, they point to the disaster they created and claim it is inefficient and so the solution is… socialized medicine.

The press gets away with what it does because its message is popular. The secret to humans is that people prefer lies. That gives them the feeling of group sympathy, the sense that everyone else in the group is as wounded as they are and that a fiction shared between all takes away the pain. It at least gives them a way to separate from those who are not wounded, and a way to use guilt to pound those not-wounded people into the pavement.

When it comes time to write an interpretation of complex events, the press always chooses to side with the angry proles at the outskirts of society. Its goal is to sell newspapers, and this means that it must find an audience, preferably the easiest audience possible. If — for example — ten percent of the population buys newspapers, newspapers must find a ten percent who will buy it.

The point there is that the ten percent can vary. They can sell to the ten percent who have been in the military, or the ten percent who hate broccoli, or… all they need to do is get a certain number of warm bodies in the door, and it does not matter who they are. This is why consumer commerce is ultimately egalitarian. If one customer is too hard to satisfy, it finds another.

Under a sane society, there would be a fixed ten percent who make all the consumer decisions because this group tends toward wanting good things — truth, realism, sanity, health, value, long-term utility, low waste, efficiency — and therefore, if we put them in charge of the products, we all benefit.

However, products have been democratized, or expanded to the lowest common denominator, including news. They sell to whoever is buying, and since discerning and discriminating consumers are hard to tell to, they pitch it to morons. A moron is equal to a genius at the voting booth, in a crowd of people socializing, and when spending a few bucks (or a click and ten minutes) on the news.

Even worse, the news seeks out morons. People who have no other inclination in life make up the bulk of journalists: they had no direction, and/or are unhappy, and want control, so they become journalists. In former times they would have been priests, relishing the power to condemn or approve that was entrusted to them. Now they do the same, but with political morality instead of religious morality.

This is why the news reflects back to us what we are. They tell us not what is actual, but what their audience wants to believe is true. They do it by leaving out some facts, which enables them to commit the “wet streets cause rain” fallacy of inverted causality; they just fail to mention the firehose, overflowing river or other sources of water, and then mention the streets before the rain, and it seems as if they are correct.

That little sleight-of-hand allows the press to then commit its next sin: the broad conclusion. If wet streets cause rain, and rain is the source of inequality because it falls more on the houses of the rich, we must wage war against wet streets in order to achieve equality. This sets the useful idiots off to dry out streets, which obstructs any useful activity, resulting in more crises for the press to write about.

Make no mistake. They are the Lügenpresse: their goal is to sell you lies by telling you only part of the truth, and like any good con man would, play to your sympathies and desires instead of actual truth. They are entertainment and sympathy, not an actual depiction of reality. Smart people instinctively know this, but the knowledge is trickling down, and with that, the Lügenpresse is losing its grip on the collective mind.