Showing posts with label Joseph Menn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Menn. Show all posts

September 23, 2023

Wash. Post exposed Jim Jordan as the Disinformation Devil

Background:
Hieronymus Bosch/The Last Judgment
If it's on Amazon and Red Bubble does this mean it's true?


By Hal Brown

There's a good lead article in The Washington Post (which unfortunately you need a subscription to read) which I posted a comment to.

An escalating campaign, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans, has cast a pall over programs that study political disinformation and the quality of medical information online

This morning this was the main story on the website:

The Post uses the term misinformation while I use disinformation mostly because it sounds better with Devil. There is a subtle diffeence between the two. Misinformation is defined as false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive while disinformation is defined as false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.

Here's my comment:

Critical thinking should be taught early in primary school. Children are exposed at an early age to lies and distortions in television advertising so when they become consumers themselves they will believe commercials which sell products with exaggerated or bogus claims. The tendency for people to believe what they want to believe, at its most benign is exploited by companies that want to sell their new improved product when hasn't really changed for 50 years. Societally the way this human characteristic is taken advantage of by people who want not only your money (which they do want) but your votes is far from harmless.  

In the Bible Jesus says about Satan, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

The Devil is in the details and when the details are distorted, twisted, turned upside-down and inside-out the Devil wins and truth and, dare I say, humankind is harmed.

(Full disclosure: I am an atheist so this is meant to be a metaphor, though if the Devil existed I think Jim Jordan would have made a deal with him.)

The three comments that preceded mine:

The Post article begins:

Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.


The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.


It includes a photo of Jim Jordan surrounded by reporterswith the caption: Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.



The authors of the article interviewed more than two dozen professors, government officials, physicians, nonprofits and research funders. Many of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their internal deliberations freely, describe an escalating campaign emerging as online propaganda is rising.

They note that "public health officials are grappling with medical misinformation, as the United States heads into the fall and winter virus season."

If you think it's hyperbole for me to call Rep. Jordan the Devil of Disinformation consider this:

In recent weeks, Jordan has sent a new round of record requests to at least two recipients of grants from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The program, one of many run by the independent agency to promote research, awards funding to groups creating tools or techniques to mitigate misinformation, such as software for journalists to identify misinformation trending online.


The article concludes with the following:

Many academics, independent scholars and philanthropic funders are discussing how to collectively defend the disinformation research field. One proposal would create a group to gather donations into a central fund to pay for crisis communications and — most critically — legal support if one of them gets sued or subpoenaed in a private case or by Congress. The money could also fund cybersecurity counseling to ward off hackers and stalkers and perhaps physical security as well.

“There is this growing sense that there need to be resources to allow for freedom of thought and academic independence,” said one longtime philanthropy grant maker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

University academics are also mulling ways to rebrand their work to attract less controversy. One leader in a university disinformation research center said scholars have discussed using more generic terms to describe their work such as “information integrity” or “civic participation online.” Those terms “have less of a bite to them,” said a person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak on the private discussions. Similar conversations are occurring within public health agencies, another person said.

“This whole area of research has become radioactive,” the person said.

Literal radioactivity can kill whether it is gamma radiation from a bomb, lingering radioactive dust, nuclear plant meltdown like occured after the Chernobyl disaster, or polonium-210 which was used as an assassination weapon against Alexander Litvinenko. 

The kind of radioactivty described in the article can not only kill research it can also kill people whether it comes from convincing people they don't need to get Covid and other vaccinations or from thwarting climate and medical research and sharing factual information and stopping the promulgation of lies about science.

Addendum:

Apparently a MAGA troll has a subscription to the Post and posted this. Note the two replies.
The commenter "Lecrtius do good" in a somewhat different way said what I said:

When everyone decided "liberal arts" was useless and education just became a worker job factory to learn "skills" and "earning power" then the path was set.

Whoever thought philosophy in high school and university was useless, well this is what we got. Usually this was pumped by the Right because (according to them) money is a value in and of itself and truth isn't a value. The Left jumped in the fray promoting postmodernism at the expense of thoughts of objectivity.
Afterword:

When people learn to engage in critical thinking from an early age they are less likely to be taken in by the propaganda promulgated by pros whether they work in government or for advertising agencies. When children pester their parents to buy sugary treats it may seem harmless for them to give in, but as adults they will waste their money buying useless products like Prevagen which is selling well enough so they can afford to pay for commercials on MSNBC where I'd hope viewers are more adept at critical thinking than those who watch Fox News.

For more on this read my blog:

Gullible people who believe Donald Trump may also believe anti-vaxxers like RFK Jr. and Dr. Zach Bush, and snake oil salespeople pushing products like Prevagen


Related: This was my New Yorker daily calendar cartoon yesterday:




Amazing! Trump just got some bigots pissed off. By Hal Brown, MSW

  I had to read the RawStory article shown above three times to figure out what happened. Trump was showing his supposed support for law enf...