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Is Fake News an Epidemic?

Is Fake News an Epidemic?

I’ve watched with some annoyance as trust in the mainstream media (whatever that is) has diminished, to be replaced by trust in even less reliable news sources. Many media outlets earned popular contempt by their carelessness with the facts. My observation is that the news media have been more biased toward “shallow” than in any other direction.

From there, it seems, we went from somewhat biased to totally biased, and finally to fake news. It is, I am told, an epidemic. Something must be done! Let’s fix this situation! Just search Google for “fake news” and “epidemic” and you’ll find references. You’ll also find plenty of people blaming social media and others defending it. I’ve even written about it before.

Fake news is really nothing new. It’s called gossip, and it’s just about as accurate. What social media does is provide more efficient distribution. God makes his sun to shine on the just and the unjust and social media smiles on stories both true and false. The context changes, but people remain the same.

What bothers me right now is that people are calling this an epidemic. “Epidemic” is one of those words that are used by people who would like to influence public opinion so as to make us all do something about it. And when you get to the point where someone just has to do something about it, the solution is generally worse than the problem.

In various countries we have calls for government action. But as soon as you have government action on fake news, you have government deciding which news is true and which is false. Whether we like to believe it or not, we in the United States are susceptible to this temptation.

The one and only answer to fake news is for individuals to use good judgment and spread stories that are verifiable, which will include actually reading stories before you share them. And while companies like Facebook and Twitter are not the government, they might well do better not to get into the truth filtering business, or at least be very careful.

Seeking truth is up to each one of us. As long as there are people who will post, share, and tweet things that are unverified, and other people who will read them and believe them, we’ll have fake news. You can channel it a bit, but you won’t get rid of it.


(Featured image credit: Openclipart.org.)

 

Videos: Taking a Break from Paul

Videos: Taking a Break from Paul

I’m going to take a break from my Thursday night studies on Paul and resume them on the first Thursday evening of the new year, January 5, 2017. I simply have too many things to complete for the publishing business before the end of the year and do not have the time to prepare properly.

I hope you’ll join me in January!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

Messages are only as useful as the audience they reach … — Joshua Darr, FiveThirtyEight.com

Just so! And even though that comes from a post about politics, I’m not thinking politics here.

No Study Tonight and an Explanation

No Study Tonight and an Explanation

Sunburst in clouds with faint Christ figure emanating from center

I will not be continuing my eschatology study tonight. I will be giving the final session of the eschatology series next Thursday night. At that time, I will take a break and will return June 23, 2016. I will announce what I’ll be studying as we move forward.

The reason for this hiatus is that I have become less and less happy with using Google Hangouts on Air as the basis for these studies and for the videos we do for Energion Publications. In fact, we’re taking the same hiatus for Energion. When we return, we’ll be using livestreaming, and probably using more than one outlet. We can now livestream on our content on Facebook, Periscope, and YouTube, though we have no problem with YouTube.

For my study, at a minimum, I expect I will livestream it and also provide it in a video and audio podcast.

In the final episode of my eschatology study next week I will discuss the book of Revelation, various ways of reading it, and also some valuable insight that can be gained that has nothing to do with writing or drawing end times charts.

Join me next week, May 19, at 7:00 pm central time. I’ll provide links on this blog.

Abusing Polls

Abusing Polls

pollI suspect that most of the times numbers are used in the media, people are being misinformed in some way. Frequently it’s by ignoring the margin of error. I’m going to discuss this with others on this afternoon’s Global Christian Perspectives. I’m providing a couple of links:

Polling Fundamentals: Total Survey Error – explanation of the various elements that might cause a poll to be off.

Margin of Error (Langer Research) – Allows you to calculate the margin of error for a poll provided you have the data.

Why the Polls Missed Bernie Sanders’ Michigan Upset – Important in explaining in some detail what elements of various polls were off in this particular case.

Bottom line, however, is that a poll is not the election, i.e., it shows what people think when it is taken, not at the time of the election. It doesn’t predict; prediction is the result of analyzing the data.

 

 

 

No Thursday Night Study Tonight

No Thursday Night Study Tonight

Due to lost time in December I’m facing a huge stack of tasks to catch up on, so I won’t be doing my study tonight. The study on eschatology will resume January 14 at 7 pm central time when I will begin to discuss the latter chapters of Isaiah and the imagery they contribute to apocalyptic as well as how they themselves impact our understanding of eschatology.

YouTube Video Issue

YouTube Video Issue

I have posted a number of YouTube videos recently before I noticed they made a change in how they share. You can now share as a playlist starting with the current video or embed the particular video. Since I’m including my study on the gospel of John in a playlist as well as embedding individual videos here, I want the specific video I’m referencing and not the playlist to appear. I will correct these as quickly as I can. In the meantime, some videos may be showing the wrong thing. If you see one I haven’t caught, feel free to tell me in a comment to the post. I’ll get to it ASAP.