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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

False news in a post-fact world

According to George Friedman, in his 2016 article False News, I am some kind of an anomaly: "The first is that people tend to only read and follow things with which they already agree. The number of people who consume information with which they disagree is fairly small."

He is probably right in his assessment as I don't even like the news sources that I am usually reading. Some of their articles annoy me given their clear bias. Nevertheless, I avoid reading news sources that confirm my beliefs, apart from professional ones like The Economist and FT. 

As often with many issues, the devil is in the details. You will not find these details if and when you read (or watch) news sources that support your existing belief system. They have no interest in creating doubt. Left-wing news media are now calling for curbing false news. The list of existing countries that curb news is not promising: China, North Korea, Russia. 

I am skeptic about the calls for curbing false news because who decides what is false news and on what grounds? 

Firstly, it's impossible to find any person who has neither beliefs nor opinions and who would thus be able to execute the task of curbing false news. Hence, the beliefs and opinions of the moderator will decide for you. Secondly, beliefs and opinions are restricted in time. New facts can contradict old beliefs and can suddenly support contested views (eg, Galileo Galilei).

My concept of the 7 Belief systems (ie, Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth) is illustrated by such contested views. News that does not support our belief system is often treated as false. However, if beliefs and opinions should be omitted from reporting news then clearly there will be little news left to report. 

Human intelligence is based on knowledge (facts), beliefs (opinions), intuition (feelings), and imagination (fantasy).

Perhaps, there is a shifting focus in life. The 19th century was more about facts, the 20th more about feelings, and the 21st more about opinions.

The 22nd century might be about imagination and fantasy. In another blog, I called this a new Renaissance.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) once stated: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." Today, it's the same all over again.

What A Fool Believes (1979) by Doobie Brothers - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2