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Fake news

The Western liberal establishment seem to be in a state of shock as to how Donald Trump managed to get himself elected as US President. One of the features of Trump's campaign which will baffle them was that he made no real attempt to pursue the idea of 'good PR', which the modern Western professional politician seems to regard as essential. PR notionally stands for 'public relations', but nowadays PR seems to have little to do with the public. In practice it tends to mean seeking good relations with the news media, particularly the left-liberal news media, and various other strangely influential organisations like NGOs. From a PR standpoint, Trump's campaign ought to have been a disaster. In trying to explain what happened, the liberal establishment seem to have now latched on to the idea that Trump must have benefited somehow from something that they call 'fake news'.

An example of the Western liberal establishment's increasing paranoia over fake news is this news story about an interview that the Apple CEO Tim Cook recently gave to the Daily Telegraph:

Cook interview

Cook seems to think that fake news 'is killing people's minds' and advocates that governments should launch public information campaigns to warn the public about it. He also advocates that children should be educated in schools about the issue, like he says they already have been with environmentalist ideas:

"And he said schools had to do more to educate children on how to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable news sources.

“It’s almost as if a new course is required for the modern kid, for the digital kid.”

But he said in some ways, children should be “the easiest to educate” and they could then share their increased awareness with their parents.

“We saw this with environmental issues: kids learning at school and coming home and saying, 'Why do you have this plastic bottle? Why are you throwing it away?' ”"


To me, environmental journalism is to a large extent a long-running example of this fake news that Cook is talking about, but of course he would fail to see that.

We can get some idea of the likely direction that Silicon Valley tech companies would try to move things in regarding fake news from the activities of Wikipedia in this area. Cook is talking about 'unreliable news sources', and for Wikipedia that tends to mean politically right-leaning news sources. This link provides a list of news sources that are currently regarded as 'unreliable' by Wikipedia, and editors are asked to avoid using the sources as references in Wikipedia articles:

Wikipedia unreliable new sources


State-associated news organisations: Xinhua, KCNA, The Straits Times, Press TV, Russia Today, Sputnik News

‘A reputation for gossip’: TMZ

Tabloids: The National Enquirer, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday

‘Corporate press releases’: PR Newswire, VerticalNews

‘Conspiracist websites’: Infowars

‘Sites that may appear to be reliable sources for Wikipedia, but aren’t’: Examiner.com, Articlesnatch.com, The Onion, The Daily Currant, The Lapine, Newslo.com, Politicalo.com

Scholarly journals ‘to be used with extreme caution’: Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Rivista di Biologia, Medical Hypotheses, Energy & Environment, Medical Veritas, Mankind Quarterly, Creation Research Society Quarterly


I've added the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday to the list of unreliable tabloid news sources in the above list. The Daily Mail (and probably the Mail on Sunday as well, as it operates from the dailymail.co.uk website) got banned by Wikipedia last week, probably in retaliation for the recent David Rose articles on climate change which suggest that NOAA is a rather corrupt organisation. Ironically the most famous British 'fake news' newspapers, the Sunday Sport and the Daily Sport, are not in the list, along with the Daily Star. The Daily Mirror is also in the list, despite it being a left-leaning newspaper (it was the only national newspaper that used to support the old version of the UK's Labour party, 'Old Labour'), but I suspect its inclusion might be related to British graduate lefties never really liking it for being 'sexist' (it used to feature photos of topless models for quite a few years, as part of an effort to compete with the Sun newspaper).

Re: Fake news

Spreadsheet man to the front...

The man responsible for fake news. He sits in the backroom. He watches his revenue streams. He watches his expense streams. He tries to maximize the first an minimize the second. The difference between spreadsheet man and a normal business person is his fixation on the %profit. That little number hounds him. When it goes negative he is in dire straights. When fighting other fake news sites for clicks to get that revenue, he is doomed to start doing the same. His revenue stream is compromised if he doesn't get clicks. Clicks are directly tied to his profit margin.

We need more clicks. More clicks...

So we get more Clickbait.


Re: Fake news

On the subject of fake news, I noticed a website called "Fake News Checker" the other day which provides a list of websites (376 at the time of writing) that it has identified as being fake news sources, describing them as "Sites Known for Promoting Extreme Bias and "Alternate Facts"".

Fake News Checker

For UK readers of the forum, probably the most interesting one included on the list is the UK satirical magazine "Private Eye". The editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, has been at the forefront of the BBC pushing its metropolitan liberal political opinion on the British public for the last thirty years. Hislop is a team captain on the long-running topical news-based comedy panel show "Have I got news for you", and has appeared in every single episode, that is 458 episodes up to the end of 2016. He has also clocked up 18 appearances over thirty years on the BBC's main political programme "Question Time". So it is somewhat amusing that Hislop is regarded as a distributor of fake news. It isn't altogether surprising, as satire is a method of distorting news which requires the audience to be sophisticated enough to realise that at least some elements of it are fake. However I suspect that Hislop has still got a 'job for life' with the BBC.

The British tabloid newspapers generally fare better with Fake News Checker than they do with Wikipedia - only the poor old Daily Mirror manages to make it on to Fake News Checker's list.

Re: Fake news

Firstly thanks Dave ,for continuing to post on here and keeping it going.
I always read with interest what you post even if I 've nothing to say myself.

I've enjoyed Hislop over the years as he is good at the sharp put down without being too nasty. I was surprised at his stance on Europe.

I hope John is keeping reasonably well in the circumstances.
I'd say if he was still posting, then 10 would certainly be his number of the month for Feb '17.
Seemingly from a metastudy of 2 Million and from the great "Imperial College".
On BBC ,this morning, there was 800g of f and v. Were they really telling us we should eat that lot every day or did I mishear?

My GP said I was reasonably good for my advanced age but that I was decidedly overweight .
Eat less,Move more, the old advice ,but he suggested a days fasting now and again.
Surprising myself,I tried it and I found it was n't as difficult as I thought it might be.
And strangely,I was energised and felt much better for it.

800g of fruit & veg

After doing a bit of checking, it looks like you did not mishear the 800 g of fruit and vegetables per day figure. This BBC news article gives more details:

link

A 'portion' is apparently 80 grams (or just under 3 ounces), so 10 portions would be 800 g. On a weekly basis, that would be 5.6 kg or 12.3 lb of fruit and vegetables being consumed.

The news article also quotes a figure of 7.8 million 'premature deaths' being avoided per year by following this advice. The 'premature deaths' figure is of course based on the imaginary scenario where the whole UK population is currently eating 10 portions per day, whereas they're not eating anything like 10, or even 5, I'd estimate the average member of the British public is eating more like 1 or 2 per day. I believe that the most commonly eaten vegetable in the UK, the potato, is not allowed to be included in this fruit and vegetables consumption exercise.

The key piece of information that would need to available for anyone to make a decision regarding a health issue, that is what is the change in lifespan for the average person that is supposedly achieved by following this advice, is as usual missed out.

Re: 800g of fruit & veg

Yet somehow, Milk and Potatoes can keep one alive.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2828/could-i-survive-on-nothing-but-potatoes-and-milk

But then we get to start talking about epigenomes...

I use lots of vegetables when I cook. I sneak extra in because if I eat enough vegetables, my challenges with post ingestion gas goes away.

Re: 800g of fruit & veg

I think we can take most nutritional advice with a pinch of salt, including the advice to have less salt.

The original "5-a-day" advice was nothing more than a marketing ploy dreamt up by the Produce For Better Health Foundation. They came up with the slogan in 1991

Wikipedia

Here's the list of their donors - It's like a who's who of the Big Food industry

PBHF Supporters

As this is the NumberWatch forum, here are plenty of numbers to show that fruit and veg don't actually have a great deal to offer in terms of vitamins and minerals

The Perfect 5-A-Day

Re: Fake news / Fasting Days

Edward

Entirely agree that the occasional or even regular fasting day is easily coped with and has beneficial effects. On both weight and energy levels.

For the past 20 odd years, whenever I find myself getting a bit floppy round the midriff I have a near fasting (breakfast only) day once a week until normal geometry is re-established. Usually 4 to 6 weeks does the trick. Nice thing about this method of weight control is that, unlike a the usual long term restricted calorie intake diet, it doesn't seem to push the body into low food mode so there is little risk of rapidly putting the weight back on once you come off the diet and go back to normal eating. If you do put a bit of weight on then a few fasting days soon gets rid of it.

A couple of years ago there was a book published advocating combining two near fasting days once a week with five normal eating days. I understand there were plenty of recipe suggestions for both normal eating and fasting days to help ensure you got decent supplies of all nutrients. 5-2 Diet or something. Might be worth looking into.

Clive.