Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Wuhan Fried Bat ‘Flu And Facebook Fact Checking

Covid 19

That the Wuhan fried bat ‘flu is now looking more like the Ooops we made a booboo Wuhan ‘flu is interesting, even fascinating. It’s going to, hopefully, trigger something of a rethink on how varied things are done.

One of which needs to be, or at least should be, how fact checking is done on all these internet sites. Because what is now becoming apparent is that the system doesn’t work:

The language was dutifully echoed by the mainstream media. By raising the possibility of a lab leak, Senator Tom Cotton was accused by the Washington Post of ‘fanning the embers of a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked by experts’; the New York Times said the Wuhan laboratory had been ‘the focus of unfounded conspiracy theories promoted by the Trump administration’; and National Public Radio reported that ‘scientists debunk lab accident theory’. In the Guardian, Dr Daszak wrote an article headlined: ‘Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know Covid-19 wasn’t created in a lab.’
….
Yet it was taken by ‘fact checkers’ at Facebook, Wikipedia and in the mainstream media as ruling out that too. For months, therefore, any discussion of lab leaks got tagged as ‘conspiracy theory’.

The problem is that any such system of fact checking is going to simply reinforce the conventional wisdom on any specific subject. Which isn’t, as we know, how science is supposed to work. Nor, actually, is it how free speech is supposed to work for that is meant to work along the same lines as science.

We have a further problem in that those fact checkers are dominated by college educated and thus rather woke millennials. This is not to say that college educated and therefore woke millennials are always wrong but it’s certainly only just the one world view among many. Yet those definitions of what is wrong, or a conspiracy theory, are going to be dominated the opinions of those doing that very defining. Even a Marxist would recognise this idea if it were the capitalist class doing the defining.

It isn’t just that Facebook – and other – fact checking failed over the Wuhan fried bat ‘flu. It’s that any such system which contains a centralised definition of “the truth” will only ever define the truth as what is centrally approved as the truth. Which is why we shouldn’t use such a system.

No, it’s not a problem with who is running it or how. It’s a failure of the very idea of such a system.

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dodgy geezer
dodgy geezer
2 months ago

No, it’s not a problem with who is running it or how. It’s a failure of the very idea of such a system. It would only be a failure IF the aim of such a system was to arrive at the truth. It is now quite obvious that this is NOT that aim of this system. The aim – never stated – was simply to protect a particular left-wing political view from being discussed or attacked in any way. And that aim seems to have been achieved in most cases. Occasions where it has failed will, of course, be brushed… Read more »

John B
John B
2 months ago
Reply to  dodgy geezer

‘It would only be a failure IF the aim of such a system was to arrive at the truth.’

The ‘truth’ – that is absolute, objective truth no longer exists. Now. ‘truth’ is relative truth as defined by the fact checkers: no other truth exists but theirs and that is the truth at which the system aims to arrive.

Last edited 2 months ago by John B
dodgy geezer
dodgy geezer
2 months ago
Reply to  John B

Ah. But I was born a Platonist, and a Platonist I remain – no matter which time my body inhabits…

Spike
Spike
2 months ago
Reply to  dodgy geezer

Yes; moreover, it is not a failure of websites and fact-checkers but of the entire free press. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and Government Broadcasting are going to flog their Compelling Narratives with any available technology. Sometimes they are forced to retract their unison lies. There is no lesson to learn about journalism or need for “reform.” Liars still gonna lie.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
2 months ago

Andrew Orlowski (pbuh), who some may remember alongside Tim at The Register (now a sad shadow of its former self), has a piece today in the Telegraph, taking apart Wokipedia. Highly recommended, if you can get past the paywall.

Snarkus
Snarkus
2 months ago

I humbly suggest that even conservative (whatever that is these days) observers have been gaslighted (using word in sense of being unsure of what is so). Contrary to received wisdom, I argue the ruins of the West, as a culture, have become fanatically religious. This religion has behaved in the same way throughout the 20th century. A common feature is its creation of a received truth, usually from experts in the holy texts of Marx and his apostles. Acordingly, we have reliance on experts, who outside hard sciences, have a record of failure that is ignored. I suggest Tims articles… Read more »

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