Fact Checking the Fact Checkers that are Checking MY Facts

Posted on October 18, 2018

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Am I my own Crap Detector?

Or am I spreading the Virus of the Mind?

What is true? What is real? How can I know? How can I learn to discern what I hear so I can know what to believe. It is you and me that must develop our own internal mechanisms for sorting out truth from untruth, fake from real, propaganda from reality. Each of us must find ways to create our own “crap detector” (as Pastor Dave of Madison Square Church calls it); a personal fact checker that believes nothing that we have been told. Everything we hear must be vetted by experience and research in this time.

Facts and truth are spinning out of control in this day and age. But I think this has been the case for hundreds of years. This is human nature. It only seems like it has gotten greater in recent years because our weaknesses as humans have been greatly magnified by social media and the internet.  Then we proceed to blame social media, internet, and the media. In the past, Emperors and Conquerors,  Popes and Priests became gods and goddesses so that the masses could be told what is true from on high. This may have been necessary because the masses had no access to information beyond word of mouth. I’m quite sure (although this needs fact checking by a historian) that this problem of  truth spinning out of control got worse at the advent of radio, then ratcheted up more as TV became a part of everyone’s home; along with Hollywood, media, and televangelists. Then came the internet, then social media which gave a voice to the people; two way communication across the world. Now we all know what each other is thinking, at least we think we do. Of course, what we think, what we think we know, and more so, what we think we know for sure is almost always the problem. All of those things we think and are pissed about or that we fear; we used to keep contained within our minds because we knew better than to express them. Now they are out there for everyone else to see and read and get pissed off about. The more we know what each other thinks, the more we can’t stand each other. The more we try to be right, we make the “other” wrong, and use labels to do it. Labels are a tool of violence, dehumanizing the other and ourselves in the process. Labels stick others in boxes so we can understand what we are dealing with. It works great in a grocery store but never with real people. Using labels with others ends the conversation and ends our ability to learn and communicate with each other.

We each have our own perspective on things and no two opinions are ever the same. Opinions do not equal facts or truth and never have. Actually, words do not equal facts or truth either. They cannot by nature. Words are simply signs and symbols that point to reality. For example, the word “tree” is very different from a real “tree.” Words are not the reality itself. Opinions are expressed in language by words. Words are contained and constructed in our minds based on our own perceptions. Reality (truth, facts) all stand on their own outside of our minds. We can’t stick a tree in our head. We cannot create truth in our minds. We do, however, create our own perception of reality in our minds and then project that perception on to everything we are perceiving. It is really amazing to me that we can communicate anything at all. And yet that is all we have to use to express ourselves to others. Quite a miracle, I’d say. But communication is a very tricky thing, so easily abused and misused.

In other words, we are all getting it wrong. That is why I keep reminding myself of this:

There is no authentic knowing outside the context of relationship or direct experience.

For example, the word “snow” as a concept is very different than “snow” as an experience. No one can really understand snow separate from direct experience.

Secondhand knowledge or hearsay usually equals heresy or fake/false news because we are all human and are all biased in many many ways; mostly in ways we can’t see and don’t understand.

We see and hear things through our own personal biases and perspectives determined by our life experiences. That’s all we have to go on. I can’t see life or understand things through your eyes “outside the context of relationship or direct experience.” We are not made that way…

Daily reminders to self:

    1. I am biased and always will be because most of my biases are still invisible to me. It takes a lifetime of growing and learning and waking up to catch on.
    2. I must seek to see and pop the hood of my own biases and their sources.
    3. I must not judge anyone for any reason. That’s not my job here on Earth. I have enough to worry about with my own self!
    4. I must not judge myself when I fall into a mental trap of  labeling, assuming, and judging anything. I must use it to learn and remember how to live in peace with others.
    5. I must always note the labels and red flag them. Labels are fine in a grocery store. We use them to make sense of what otherwise would seem chaotic. But we cannot transfer this wonderful sense-making tool of labeling to people because we inevitably end up unconsciously transferring our biases right along with the labels. We stick the person in a box of our own making and think we know all.
    6. Any and all labeling others is the lazy man’s way of making themselves right and others wrong; of eluding, evading, or shirking the inner work of discernment.
    7. Nobody is always right. No statements from people great or small are always right. No news is always right. No fact checker is always right.
    8. Nothing we read on the internet is always right. That was rule number one in graduate school when we would use the internet for research; check, recheck, double-check. And we must still remember our source might be wrong. This applies to all of life, not just the internet.
    9. When I post something on the internet, is this something that I would say publicly or face to face in conversation. Or am I using the internet as a coward’s way out to vent my own issues or anger?
    10. Have I considered the ramifications of what I say? Can I put myself in the shoes of others before I make my assertions? Am I seeking to understand more than to be understood?

 

Whose job is it to check the facts??? That be you. That be me. Unless you want to be brainwashed or hoodwinked all your life.

 

No fact checker should stand alone just like no news site should stand alone nor should any internet source stand alone because nothing we hear from any one person is ever 100% true.  Here’s a good article about fact checking.

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/fact-checkers-big-media/

 

ASK FACTCHECK

Meme Falsely Claims We ‘Exposed’ Snopes.com

By D’Angelo Gore

Posted on March 6, 2018

A great example of this was recently forwarded to me:

Here’s what Factcheck.org says about the graphic or meme that is in circulation and falsely accusing Snopes as being liberally biased false news. The label “liberal” should have been a huge red flag. Factcheck.org denies the truth of this meme and shows that the graphic itself is fake news in many ways.meme-factcheck-snopes

Here are a few ways according to Factcheck.org:

“In 2009, we addressed Snopes.com’s alleged political bias and wrote that we found the website’s work to be ‘solid and well-documented,’ and that its articles appeared ‘utterly poker-faced’ when tackling rumors about Democratic and Republican politicians.”

“We also noted at the time: ‘We even link to Snopes.com when it’s appropriate rather than reinvent the wheel ourselves, which we consider high praise.’”

“The meme also falsely claims that “Snopes has no employees,” when it actually has 10 editors and writers, according to its staff page. The website has posted its sources of funding online as well, and there is no mention of the DNC or Soros.”

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/03/meme-falsely-claims-exposed-snopes-com/

 

Memes

My understanding of memes are limited but more and more the idea of the virus of mind (which is another way of saying “meme”) has been informing me about why the world is in the condition that it is; why my own thinking is in the condition that it is. This is closely tied to the theme of this post also. A meme is a snippet (or a small building block) of information, whether true or not, that grabs the attention of those that read it or hear it. It implants itself in the mind of a person and it grows and spreads to all aspects of the person’s life and then spreads to others, trying to convince them and implant itself in that person. As with any virus, a powerful meme can spread like wildfire, affecting more and more people. A weak meme eventually is overpowered by more powerful memes and dies out. For example, gossip is a form of a meme. A story about another person can spread and eventually destroy a person’s reputation, along with their friendships and community. There is no end to examples of memes that are spreading on the internet. Some are true and some are false. But when they take root, they change its victims forever. It plants a form of stigma that changes how others view a person and how people think related to this issue.

Virus of the Mind: the new science of the meme

By Richard Brodie, 1996 (below is a summary of the book)

Virus of the Mind is the first popular book devoted to the science of memetics, a controversial new field that transcends psychology, biology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Memetics is the science of memes, the invisible but very real DNA of human society. In Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie carefully builds on the work of scientists Richard Dawkins, Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett, and others who have become fascinated with memes and their potential impact on our lives. But Richard goes beyond science and dives into the meat of the issue: is the emergence of this new science going to have an impact on our lives like the emergence of atomic physics did in the Cold War? He would say the impact will be at least as great. While atomic bombs affect everybody’s life, viruses of the mind touch lives in a more personal and more pernicious way. Mind viruses have already infected governments, educational systems, and inner cities, leading to some of the most pervasive and troublesome problems of society today: youth gangs, the welfare cycle, the deterioration of the public schools, and ever-growing government bureaucracy.Viruses of the mind are not a future worry: they are here with us now and are evolving to become better and better at their job of infecting us. The recent explosion of mass media and the information superhighway has made the earth a prime breeding ground for viruses of the mind.” https://www.amazon.com/Virus-Mind-New-Science-Meme/dp/1401924697

The MIND Virus and its Antidote

Could you be unwittingly spreading a virus of the mind? Passing on lies and misinformation to your friends?

Could you or someone you know be a victim of an Internet Mind Virus?

You could. But never fear: the antidote is here. You’ve seen messages promising money, luck, or sex — as long as you pass them on. Messages warning you of a dangerous new virus, and begging you to tell your friends, quick! Or perhaps you’ve seen a topical joke that you wanted to send to all your friends — send it fast, before they hear it from someone else!

All of these are viruses. Not computer viruses, but MIND viruses. These messages all have one thing in common: they contain compelling messages, or memes, that grab our attention and persuade us to pass them on. These memes play on our fear of loss, or embarrassment, or appeal to us with promises of sex or money or good luck. Some of messages make us feel good about ourselves because we believe that by passing on a plea for help or signing a petition, we’re doing a good deed.

And sometimes we are. A mind virus or meme is not by itself a bad thing. But would you pass on a mysterious computer virus to a friend? Of course not.

A powerful Internet Mind Virus compels us to re-send it to others. The message spreads explosively as we and many others help it reproduce. The information in the message — whether true or false, useful or not — becomes widespread, infecting many people.

Most of these viruses of the mind are spread because they are intriguing or frightening or inspiring, and not necessarily because they’re true. That’s the problem.

What You can Do: the Antidote

To stop the thoughtless spread of Internet Viruses, we must all begin by thinking. Refrain from forwarding anything you have just received and whose origin you don’t know. A message is not true simply because it says it is. The government or Disney or the USSR has not issued a statement just because someone says they have. Words are cheap.

A mind virus that instructs you to forward it right away is a mind virus trying to reproduce.

When it comes to passing on an internet message, don’t let your emotions be your guide. Look to actual authorities to validate rumors. Look to virus experts to validate viruses.

Jokes are the most innocuous of Internet Viruses, because they at least do not pretend to be true. But sometimes they do pretend to be funny. Ask yourself more than once if your joke is really worth the time of all the friends you are forwarding it to.

The important thing is to realize that every person who spreads a virus keeps it alive. Once spread, Internet Mind Viruses — even the ones that are the worst destructive lies — are hard to kill.

Not all Internet Mind Viruses are consumers of faith, trust, and time. Some give back more than they take. A good joke or a pointer to a worthwhile web site can make someone’s day.

But before you forward something, hesitate and think. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the message tell you to act by resending it?
  • Does the message use an authoritative or newspaper-type tone?
  • Does the message tell you to be afraid of something?
  • Does the message offer you sex or money or good luck?
  • Does the message invoke your feelings of pity or generosity?

http://www.memecentral.com/antidote.htm

 

Viruses have the same impact in the body as they do in computers or in culture.

Virus: “viruses invade the reproductive facilities of other organisms and put them to use making copies of itself. We call this creature a virus. Viruses can exist in biology, computers, and culture. A virus is anything that takes external copying equipment and puts it to work making copies of itself.” http://www.kimhartman.se/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Virus-of-the-mind-summary.pdf

Culture: There are three “containers” or environments within which viruses can multiply: biology (the physical body), computers, and culture (which begins in the mind and in thought). The real paradigm shift is happening in this third “container” that is what makes up all aspects of our culture; whether education, religion, politics, etc.

DNA: Just as DNA drives or determines the physical body, memes drive or determine all aspects of culture, mind, and thought. Just as in the body, a virus implants itself and copies or duplicates itself with the ultimate goal of dominating the body, thereby overtaking the body.

Meme: Do not overthink the meme. It can be as simple as “Coke ads Life.” But it can also be as complex as “Obama’s birth certificate” or “global warming” as a hoax or good science. They are basic building blocks of our thoughts and inhabit our minds; which then creates our culture. Almost all thinking that is not habitual or instinct can probably be considered some sort of meme.

The Question for Us All: is this. Are you spreading thoughtless ideas and opinions (not fact checked) that are leading people astray? If we are going to spread information through social media, we must be very careful to spread that which is true, not that which has been told to us (no gossip). I have no right to spread information that I do not “know”. It doesn’t matter if I like it or not or if it fits my political views or not. I must learn to hit the stop button on “forward” or on “post” until I know for sure that what I’m forwarding or posting is true.And the way I vet my own knowing is asking myself this:

Is it something I know within the context of direct experience or relationship? Or is it something that I have been told; that I think I know but only through second-hand knowledge?

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