Online Misinformation: Why I Have Such a Hard Time Accepting It

It shouldnt be difficult to tell the difference between the two
It shouldn't be difficult to tell the difference between the two

I realise that I can often come across as being abrasive, insensitive, and sometimes even confrontational. This is largely due to the problem I have accepting people who deliberately set out to either confuse, or spread misinformation, in the furtherance of an unstated, or even unacknowledged, agenda. I encounter many people, and not just on GAG, who seem to believe that reality is somehow whatever you want it to be, or that it's more important to refrain from upsetting others with the truth, but why does it have to be this way?

We seem to inhabit a bizarre world where feelings are considered to be more important than objective facts, where we always have to tip-toe around subjects of importance to us because someone may, at some point in time somewhere on the planet, become "offended" by the truth, or even by just an expressed opinion. Accuracy in journalism seems to have vanished entirely, and it no longer seems to matter to those who work in that particular field whether or not a story is actually true, as long as it gets people's emotions going and makes a lot of money for the "news" outlet in question. People seem to be afraid of their own shadow, and it's often very difficult to determine whether or not an online story, for example, is actually a parody or not.

It's been pointed out to me more than once that GAG has a feature that allows me to block whomever I choose if I happen to believe that person is giving me grief for any reason, and I am grateful for this feature, but that's not really the point. People who have false views of the world need to be challenged, because what they promote (i.e. lies) is harmful to all of us, especially in the long run. Society is damaged by those who believe that which is patently untrue, because they then act according to those beliefs, and this is why we have, for example, people who oppose vaccinations because they believe they cause autism, and others destroying 5G towers because they think they cause cancer, or are in some way connected to the current coronavirus (which makes absolutely no sense no matter which way you look at it).

The strongest argument against censorship is the often overlooked fact that bad ideas need to be exposed to the fresh air of debate, and that even attempting to suppress an unpopular view in the name of 'political correctness' just causes the idea in question to become in some way legitimised and given credence, even if none is due. I will apologise to someone if I inadvertently make the mistake of, for example, employing an ad hominem argument, but I will certainly NOT apologise for expressing a view that they, for whatever reason, cannot cope with. Misinformation is now ubiquitous, but apart from unreasonable calls for the overt censorship of clearly wrong ideas (ex. holocaust denial), no one seems to quite know what to do about it. I do not understand this, because the simplest and most obvious way to challenge and stop the spread of bad ideas is to simply demonstrate why they are wrong, in an open and free forum. What could be easier than that?

I often react negatively to the views expressed here simply because I care. I care about where the world is going, why all of this is happening, and in large part that is due to the acceptance, for whatever reason(s), of beliefs that are clearly harmful, because they are false.

Online Misinformation: Why I Have Such a Hard Time Accepting It
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  • NicoletteXO
    Love it. Interestingly, I strongly agree with everything you've said, though I suspect you and I would have very different views on vaccinations and Covid. That said, you seem like one of the few on the internet who would be capable of having a level-headed debate (not an inflammatory tit-for-tat that goes nowhere) about that.

    I don't find your tone abrasive at all. I find it eminently refreshing.
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • zeitgeist057
    I feel a bit sorry for you on a few counts. One is your seeming belief in an objective truth, and furthermore the possibility that you think that whatever truth you hold to be true (subjectively) is in fact that "objective" truth, and therefore "everyone who disagrees with me is delusional". That's a rough path to be on.

    Another bit is about caring so much and feeling like arguing with people and "exposing their bad arguments" is somehow an effective tool. It's not. People say they care about truth, but in reality, they just want to be right and so they plug their ears and sing loudly whenever something threatens that. No less than an hour ago I had user "In Trance" block me At this question about Invermectin. The reason? He had stated you can't buy it without a prescription, then I posted links to where you can buy it on Amazon (without a prescription). I didn't do or say anything other than show that something he had said was false. People get so attached to their statements and beliefs, they feel it is a part of them that they cannot let go. IMHO a more enlightened person who says something that is then proven false, simply says, "Oh, I guess I was wrong, it looks like you CAN buy X without a prescription. Thanks for the information, now I can make more accurate statements."

    As for "accuracy in journalism" and "objective facts", you are in for a world of hurt. Deep Fake technology and twisting of news is just now getting started. News has always been a way of manipulating people's opinions and reality, but it is getting more and more wild every year. There are so many factions at play now, I do not see a way where everyone is going to just sit down nicely and find something to agree on.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg, and if you want to block me because I said something you didn't like, that's fine. You can keep up with the rest of them burying your head in an echo chamber until everyone around you agrees, because you've shut out anyone who doesn't. Then you can pretend that your reality is "objective", because all the yes men around you agree with you.
    • "One is your seeming belief in an objective truth, and furthermore the possibility that you think that whatever truth you hold to be true (subjectively) is in fact that "objective" truth, and therefore "everyone who disagrees with me is delusional". That's a rough path to be on."
      No, that's wrong, completely so. "... seeming belief in an objective truth" - Well, yes. Doesn't everyone on the planet believe this? Of course things can be objectively true. 2+2=4, does it not? The Earth is a sphere (oblate spheroid), is it not? The sky is blue, yes?
      I don't - do NOT - believe that everyone who disagrees with me is automatically wrong. Where did you get THAT idea from? I mean, I may be opinionated at times, but I'm not that far gone!

    • I'm not going to block you simply because I don't agree with you here. I have blocked quite a few people though, but that wasn't due to any simple disagreement, but because they were nasty and vulgar. Yes, I understand what you say about the "news" being able to shape people's opinions, but that doesn't change the fact that there is an objective world out there that the mainstream media like to lie about. I also understand how attached people can get to their precious beliefs, and that is a BIG part of the problem here. Objectivity is important, but too many don't (or can't) seem to appreciate that fact. I have no idea what you mean by "deep fake technology".

    • "2 + 2 = 4" ---> I *believe* (but don't *know*) that math is a great example of about as pure as logic can get, so great example. There are a couple little sneaky ways I could say this isn't always true like for example 2 boy rabbits plus 2 girl rabbits won't always equal just 4 rabbits XD.

      "The Earth is a sphere, the sky is blue, etc"--> from your human PERSPECTIVE. There are different dimensions and ways of perceiving. Two dimensions vs. 3, 4, 5, or more. As for colors, the sky is not the blue you see from the perspective of a dog (2 cones/rods eye structure), a butterfly (4 cones/rods), or mantis shrimp (16 cone/rods). The sky color is a great example, because the way I think about it, our eyes are like cameras, and we are limited to the particular colors and resolution that our cameras/eyes afford us. We cannot see the incredible range of color that a butterfly or mantis shrimp does, and the few human tetrachromats can see 100 times more colors than regular humans (~100 million vs. ~1 million)

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  • supercutebutt
    It is best to delete and block misinformation spreaders. Nothing good comes from arguing with them. You legitimize their lies by challenging obvious ridiculousness. Many of these people know they are spreading lies and that is their goal: To destroy society. You have no idea who you are arguing with. Often it is a troll with an agenda.
    • Yes, if they go too far (ex. if it gets personal, and it's obvious they're unhinged) I will block them without hesitation. I've already done this to quite a few trolls here. I don't see any point in wasting my time with people who clearly just want to cause trouble.

  • Aethereal
    I agree in large part with what you wrote here. However, an important problem is that for many people, feelings and held beliefs often inform our actions/choices regardless of the facts.

    It is difficult to separate real from fake information today because most people will easily find positions online that supports their feelings and beliefs. If someone believes for example that the Covid vaccine will give autism, they will find online sources that support that belief. And when they do, this source will hold more value than opposing sources. Coupled with the rise in conspiracy theory (which aims to paint the mainstream information as some kind of plot/deception for an unknown end at our expense), the value of the unproven, fringe source increases. At best, you have someone too confused to make a rational decision (much like Buridan's ass), which is also not ideal.

    When there is just too much information from both sides of an argument, people would rather act or decide based on their feelings. Just look at many of the questions asked here on GAG. Many of them are clearly designed to gain responses that reinforce an already held belief/opinion, rather than to discuss opposing views. The asker has already found information that supports their beliefs, and simply seeks like-minded people to further back those beliefs regardless of whether they are false/wrong or not.

    Given all this, it might have been best to just leave the misinformed to get burned by their false information. However, in most cases doing so endangers others in the process. Being a victim of someone else's ignorance is something I find truly unacceptable. But what can we do when the ignorant person believes wholeheartedly that you are the ignorant one? This might be why more authoritarian countries handle this better; sometimes it may be better to place the greater good over freedom regardless of feelings. I fear we are fast reaching the point in which every argument becomes like that of a devout Christian and Muslim trying to convert the other. An argument in which one or both parties are unwilling to accept that they might be wrong is simply a waste of time. As such, I don't really think the solution to misinformation is open discussion.
  • ADFSDF1996
    The irony is that the people who claim to be against “misinformation” and “fake news” are the same people promoting shady information. And anyone who criticizes them are labeled “right wing extremists” or “fringe”.

    Read George Orwell’s 1984 and see the frightening parallel to thought crime and newspeak
    • Yes, I've already read that book. More than once, actually. In the end Winston Smith winds up loving Big Brother. The most depressing book I've ever read.

  • Dragonpurple
    One of the biggest problems I see is too powerful social media companies, and main stream media.

    The media picks and chooses to fit their agenda, while trying to put their spin on truth.

    Social media does the same, such as when Twitter banned a article from the New York Post during Election season that showed all the evidence of Biden's son and the Ukrainians, and now its been proven true beyond a doubt so it is unbanned. Twitter determined it was misinformation at the time and have since retracted the ban, now that is matters little.

    They banned it so he could win, but have since reversed it once it was proven true. They should have just let it be, rather than influencing the election, like you said... exposed to the public for the truth.

    Same thing with anti-vaxxers, did you know that there are thousands of them who won't get the vaccine because the government is protecting the makers from lawsuits for side effects until 2024? If it is so safe, why protect them? That is a huge mixed message. If they removed that barrier they'd have a huge chunk going to get the vaccine.

    Yet you do not hear that on social media or main stream media as a reason, it is always freedom or religious objections, they have chosen to sparingly report or focus on that reason.
  • Tunasub
    Very well written.

    I am skeptical by nature. I have a bullshit meter that is just a hair off but it's been fairly accurate over the years.

    It's the blatant lie that irks me... there is no reason for it other than to draw attention to or away from someone, something or oneself... especially here on G@G.

    It's just something that baffles me that people think so little of themselves and others that they feel the need to do this and enjoy it.
  • Floppy2112
    You write English really well for being Russian... It was an excellent 'My Take'... Kudos.
    • Thanks. I've had a LOT of practice with the language, and I'm a real perfectionist as well.

    • Floppy2112


    • Sssh. Don't tell anyone. It's our little secret.

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  • Snakeyes7
    Before I was deemed old enough to use the internet like around 2009 or something I remember having this advice "don't believe everything you read on the internet" pounded into my head and I was glad I did. Unfortunately many many people didn't get that memo.
  • b5fan
    Every idea that counters the current orthodoxy is considered false. Be it Copernicus's belief that the earth went around the sun or Darwin's theory of evolution. The best counter for bad ideas is good ideas. Censorship is wrong because it prevents the debate above and it empowers a group of people to silence others. That group of people will inevitably become corrupted (because power corrupts) and soon you have an authoritarian state hanging the unbeliever.
    • goaded

      That doesn't mean being dismissed or even censored means you're right.

    • b5fan

      @goaded That's true, but it means you can't prove that you are right because the conversation never takes place. Without the exchange of ideas no progress can be made.

    • goaded

      The problem at the moment is that these conversations are framed in such a way that it's never a question, it's always an accusation and often a lie.

      Ask: "How safe are the vaccines?", "How do we know the elections were secure?", "How do we know the votes were accurately counted?", or "How do we know evolution is real?" and you'll get a conversation.

      Pretend: "Vaccines will kill you!", "The election was stolen!", "They counted thousands of ballots twice!", or "Evilutionists want to eat your babies!" and you don't deserve one.

      Reasonable people get pissed off with the constant barrage of lies that continue long after it's clear that they're lies, then the liars scream about being "censored" (even when the "censorship" consists of just accurately labelling their lies).

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  • Cowboy6666
    Well the internet is full of fake news, information, trolls.
    Even i dont trust people easily in online World!!

    Anyways good MyTake !!
  • Lliam
    I don't have any problem assessing information for myself and developing informed opinions. I have realized repeatedly how much disinformation comes from mainstream media and how much truth is omitted. Things that were once branded as "conspiracy theories" often turn out to be true.

    I 100% agree that "the simplest and most obvious way to challenge and stop the spread of bad ideas is to simply demonstrate why they are wrong, in an open and free forum. What could be easier than that?"
  • SenseiSeptred
    My lass, what you described as far as not letting peoples prejudices affect what you say is a major part of potentially having achieved the state of nirvana like I did back in 2016 that started because I was searching for the answer to the secret of life. Long answer put short, the secret doesn't exist because if it did, all of creation would be wiped out in the second that it was discovered.
    • If you achieved nirvana, then what are you doing wasting your time on GAG?

    • ran out of LSD

  • VTecumseh
    Totally agree.

    Censorship breeds secrecy. Secrecy breeds misinformation.

    We are in the current problem because we started to censor people around 2004-2005 because of "terrorism". It progressively got worse, each year we censored people for a wider and wider number of heresies.

    In 2021, the entire media agrees with each other, and often copy each others work. If they say something that is wrong, there is no one left to challenge them, because independent bloggers are all censored or removed from all social media. This is the most damaging type of information today, the "official" misinformation that tells people that cloth squares don't protect us - then they do protect us - then they don't protect us - then they do protect us again! Or that a curfew or sitting 1 seat apart while eating stops a virus.
  • exitseven
    The problem is that all the so called news outlets are nothing ore than political organizations. I do not believe any of them and usually make up my on mind by watching who is getting rich.
    The Covid virus is a prime example. Big box stores and on line shopping really cleaned up. The teachers made out like bandits with a year and a half paid vacation, Dr. Fauci is a millionaire. Meanwhile small businesses, restaurants and service sector workers were ruined by the lockdowns.
    I do not believe news reporters and even big tech cannot be trusted.
  • Stephen_77
    Most of the fake news and disinformation comes from the mainstream media and lying politicians. I'm always sharing information on social media, regarding the dangers of the fake covid vaccines and the dangers of 5G, which do cause cancer. People can look at the information and make up their own minds.
  • captain_voidwalker
    I like that quote from game of thrones. When you cut out a man's tongue your not proving him a liar, your proving that your afraid of what

    Also you ever notice that no one tries to censor flat earthers? It's because we can all see how ridiculous that shit is. Now ask your self, if all those people who question the 2020 election or question the vovid vaccines were just as ridiculous. Why are they trying so hard to shut us up instead of just letting us put our info out there to be laughed at. Almost like they're afraid of why we are saying so they are metaphorically cutting out our tounges
    • goaded

      How many US Senators are pushing flat Earth?

    • Does it not occur to you that maybe what facebook and CNN call "misinformation" might in fact be the truth. That goes for my side as well don't belive shit just because a politician with an R next to thier name says it. Question everything and gather as much information as you can. Then you , you and none else should determine whats true in this world.

    • goaded

      Yeah, if something sounds unlikely or too good to be true, I check it out. At some stage, though, you have to rely on other people to provide information and it's best to stick to the ones that don't tell you outright lies. As a rule of thumb, for me to accept a source, it should be well established, or provide links to their sources, for me to check out quickly. Preferably both. I'm also more likely to take something at face value if it goes against the overall lean of the source, like CNN saying something against Biden, or Fox against Trump.

      Loads of conversations on here, I just check something out, only to find they've either been misled or being misleading, but then you get weeks of messages insisting they're right and I shouldn't believe my own eyes and ears, which pushes them into the outright liars category.

  • DonkeyDan
    Agree completely, you know the saying "ignorance is bliss."
  • es20490446e
    Time for the standard reply:
  • Friendlybro79
    That is so well said, and I feel the same way. I know many other people do as well. It's getting to be exhausting trying to stay calm in situations when you're not sure if you're talking to someone who's just trying to get underneath your skin or really believes their nonsense.

    The only reason I keep replying to some of these ridiculous things is to try to do my part in making sure the misinformation isn't completely overpowering reality. What scares me is how many people believe in radical and crazy conspiracies that they just read online.

    You said this so well thank you. Have a great day.
  • genericname85
    "online misinformation"? there's blatant lies and misinformation. in politics, traditional media and online. and in these times where google actually decides to promote their "opinion", it gets harder by the day to find out the "actual" information.

    i mean i happen to be in social science. so i see all the bullshit that people are discussing in public, using "facts" they got from somewhere that are just entirely wrong or completely out of context and not suitable for the argument that they are making. and me as someone who "Knows" that stuff is casually brushed off as "idiot" in such discussions online, cause people prefer the bullshit but sensational news over reality...
  • legalboxers
    because some news channels fit the news to fit a narrative for their viewers
  • Tamera952
    Brilliantly said. I whole-heartedly agree.
  • Joker_
    I agree with @Jouth
    • "Fake and gay"? What does that even mean? It's nonsensical.

    • Joker_

      It's esoteric culture, but yeah it is nonsensical so don't dwell on it

  • bamesjond0069
    Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.
    • Are you sure, that could be considered spreading misinformation... in today's modern transgender world. *Sarcasm off*

    • Blasphemy! :D

  • Jouth
    Fake and gay
  • WesBrewer
    for a sec I though the cubes said "cake" lol
  • Jake99999
    How do I know what you are saying is true? lol
    • I guess you'll just have to trust me. Or, you can get it fact-checked on 'Snopes'! :)

  • t-8900
    Ahhh the #PizzaGate scandal... good times.
  • Andres77
  • anylolone
    Well. have you considered an obvious explanation?
  • Anonymous
    True and false. It's not always that simple.
    Some people live life on emotions and feelings. They care less about facts and more about how the world feels aground them. You need to present your arguments to them knowing that to win your case
    To a fact based person that is heresy. And I agree people who should know better intermingled editorials, bias, feelings and facts forming an unholy mess. Professions too -journalists and politicians - which is more disappointing.
    But what is a fact? The moon is not made of cheese. But for arguments sake, is your posting passive aggressive? You could argue that either way because it's subjective and depends how I read it and who I am. (I'm not imply you were passive aggressive).
    Personally, I'm more fact based and the hate hidden bias that professionals use. They should know better. And I agree the standard of public figures seems to have dropped through the floor. Which means I cannot believe anything they say. Disappointing.
  • Anonymous
    sweet! So you're one of the few leftists that agree that social media companies need to be stripped of their section 230 protection since you insist they are private companies with the ability to censor what they wish--while section 230 is designed to provide protections for public platforms. :) Or was that by accident that you just sided with conservatives? lol.
    • Why do you call me a "leftist"? I don't care about politics, except to the extent it's sometimes mildly amusing and entertaining (like that clown Trump, and Sleepy Joe).

    • because for some people, everything must be political, so they start off with the assumptions and labeling, in order for things to fit into their narrow world view.

  • Anonymous
    i find it funny when an abrasive user tries to appeal to us like this. We judge you on your previous behavior.
    • I think you are confusing intelligence with abrasiveness.

    • How have I been "abrasive"? Which of my previous posts were like that? Just curious.

  • Anonymous
    Hold up--didn't you JUST suggest banning (i. e., CENSORING) people from GAG unless they have an IQ of 120 or more? If you're worried about censorship, look no further than your nearest mirror. . .
    • That was merely a suggested way we could raise the level of discussion here at GAG. I don't consider the rants of lunatics like trolls, people who by their own admission have nothing of value to contribute to any discussion, to be worthy of respect. Free speech doesn't include the "right" to abuse or deceive others, nor does it include the "right" to slander or harass.

    • Furthermore, private entities like GAG (and YouTube, Facebook and so on) are private entities who have the right to ban (or censor) anyone they like, and no, this isn't a free speech issue. Free speech never has been, nor should it be, unlimited. You don't have the "right" to ruin someone's reputation, for example.

    • Anonymous

      But who gets to decide what constitutes abuse, deception or harassment? Who gets to determine what is information and what is misinformation? Did we not just have a situation where anyone who suggested that COVID originated in a Chinese lab in Wuhan was a tin-foil hat wearing lunatic trafficking in misinformation, ONLY THEN to come to determine--"hey, wait a second--maybe there IS something to that claim!"

      Methinks the "cure" you propose is worse than the disease you would treat.

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