The post-truth box, or how to be smart around fake news.

we hear a lot of talking about the post-truth era, fake news, propaganda and the like.

So we think: this is the nth BS story taken way too seriously by people that take themselves way too seriously.

Journalists who do not want to lose their job.
Politicians scared that their reputation will erode because of the acid propaganda flinged at them.
And a fully populated middle earth of self proclaimed media gurus who now have the skills to point out what post-truth is and how to counter it. With all that goes with it, including how to recognize false propaganda, how to mitigate its effects.
And to tell you who’s behind that news outlet or “who gains” from this or that news item, they’d garnish all with a side of ‘behindology’ (…conspiracy theories, that is, but we thought the “behind” element was strangely fitting here…). Or did you want fries with that?


Fake news are a fact.

Beautiful, isn't it?

The post-truth era? Not so much. We have given people of the world (and we mean the whole freaking Blue Marble, not just the so-called western countries, the northern hemisphere or the rich ones, we really mean men and women on the whole Earth) access to the so-called Mainstream Media (Radio, TV, the press and nowadays Internet).

Radio and TV (and the press) are by their own nature very controllable media. Someone decides what goes on them and the whole population receives them passively. We have been trained, during the 6/7 decades in which we had television, to LISTEN and BELIEVE to what came from the box.

The box can be no wrong. It does know. It uses big words. If it uses a word that becomes language.

This is the power we abdicated to the box, it makes our language, therefore it chooses the words we use, the symbols we recognize and interpret to represent and recreate our worlds in our brains. The box is us.

SISO - the simple model
The SISO system philosophy

Then along came the Internet. The Internet gives Zero fucks if who writes (or talks, or looks to a camera and displays a sign) has been authorized and vetted to do so. Also, the internet gives Zero fucks if what gets put into it is true. The Internet is a database with a “SISO” attitude (see diagram for clarifications on SISO). Nobody is in charge anymore. Nobody is telling the system operators what messages they should broadcast for our little brains to absorb. On the internet, in social media, nobody is doing the fact checking (that supposedly gets done by other traditional media, right? Right? ).

Well, where does this brings us? To an interesting place. In 7 decades (less in some places, but still…) we have been trained to be a-critical and take whatever comes to us as truth. If it is out there and someone is screaming it from the top of their lungs from the box, they must have done some fact checking, right?

This is what has been ingrained into us.

Now, because we have been made incapable of performing fact checking on our own and we have put our inquisitive, critical minds (which is what makes us, us and not some form of hairless primate) on standby, some of the aforementioned self-proclaimed media gurus, worried (ex)politicians and (even more worried but yet non ex) “journalists” are scrambling to give us advice on how to spot fake news.

So the situation looks like we have been made drunk by making us binge consumers of controlled (selected) media, taking away from us the responsibility to check if stuff is true or not, and now the cure seems to be that we should listen some more, to the ones that tell us where to look to find the true truth. Not the false truth or the “i don’t really know ’cause I’ve not checked, but I like this other guy’s idea better because it benefits ME” truth.

So, we’re metaphorically drunk (because we are used to drink whatever gets handed to us without questioning) and the cure is to blindly accept yet some more drinks?

Are we alone in not seeing ANY logic in this? What if we started to do our own fact checking? What if we started to smell the drink, ask where it came from, question if it was from a sealed container, sip it slowly and watch what happens before committing to drink?

Why don’t they tell us THAT? Why don’t we tell us THAT? That is, how to know if something is bullshit or not…

But then we, the all singing, all dancing crap of the world would become a critical audience (no hyphen there), much harder to fool, more resilient to propaganda and influence. Advertisement might stop working. Politicians might be forced to keep their electoral promises.

So the cure is, please listen to us: The box can be no wrong. It does know. It uses big words. If it uses a word that becomes language.

Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

…er, box. We meant Box.

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Title image credits> English Oxford living dictionaries

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