Wednesday 29 November 2017

What on Earth is Fake News?

You know the world is fucked up when you see headlines like this:


Or this:


This is the offending meme, and the reaction it generated among Yair Netanyahu's new fans (September 9):

Mind you, apparently Netanyahu Jr. is not new to that kind of things (August 17):


I suppose I don't need to remind readers, but I will anyway: one cannot generalise from that. You don't need to be a statistician to see the recklessness in generalising from a non-random sample of two. Chances are those two characters are the exception to the rule; they don't represent the whole or even the majority of the Jewish community: these two individuals probably reveal only their own deeply seated psychological problems or lower than normal intelligence (that's not an exclusive or, btw), otherwise infrequent among Jews.

Or, to put it bluntly: those are just two freaks.

One can reasonably agree with all that and leave things at that. But after finding discussions like this:


With replies like this:


Headlines like the one below suddenly become a whole lot harder to dismiss out of hand as fake news, yes? And one is justified in wondering how many other individuals might also be affected by that kind of psychological/cognitive deficiency. Moreover, what would happen if some of those individuals were both more prominent and influential?


Frankly, I don't know that I'm ready to buy Massad's thesis wholesale, and I am not endorsing it. But neither can I deny it.

Maybe the thing with fake news is that reality itself has become surreal, nightmarish. It's getting harder and harder to decide what is and what is not fake news.


  1. "Fake news" used to be the preserve of tabloids, like the National Inquirer. In those days, tabloid journalism was considered to be a form of entertainment.

    Fake news also refers to articles written under the guise of satire. It is crucial that satire be shown for what it is.

    Articles that are deliberately crafted to deceive the public used to be called propaganda. Nowadays we recognize the importance of precise terminology, so we call it fake news.

    Back in the day, newspapers would publish opinion pieces known as editorials. The distinction between news and editorials was so confusing that we had to lump them together. The result was more fake news.

    The final innovation was to designate any article that doesn't suit one's ideological precepts as fake news.

    Wittgenstein would have loved these advancements.

  2. How can a guy with a Jewish first name be a Duke and a Nazi?