In his satirical poem ‘Don Juan,’ Lord Byron may have coined the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction,’ but sometimes it is the strangeness of the phony that makes fiction more powerful. Recently the Atlantic noted, “By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.”
The ‘study’ to which Atlantic refers was published in Science [http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146]. The abstract of that study informs us: “We investigated the differential diffusion of all of the verified true and false news stories distributed on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. The data comprise ~126,000 stories tweeted by ~3 million people more than 4.5 million times. We classified news as true or false using information from six independent fact-checking organizations that exhibited 95 to 98% agreement on the classifications. Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information. We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information. Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust. Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”
So, the more far-fetched fiction are the tweeted utterances from POTUS45, the more likely they are to penetrate to the substrata of our commonwealth. That fact/truth does not penetrate so exhaustively is obvious to the casual observer as well as to the scientific enquirer. Why else could the Liar-in-Chief maintain such a hold on so many in the substrata?
6 responses to “Faux Flies Faster, Farther”
And, doesn’t the study reflect that robots are the more trustworthy?
Robots transmit without opinion; homo sapiens transmit without sapience
Sad but apparently true. Thanks for passing this along, altho I confess I don’t feel better now knowing what previously I only suspected.
Having you feel better was not exactly what I had in mind, altho I am not opposed to your general well-being. Truth be told, I’d rather everyone feel downright shitty about this whole mess to which we’ve descended as a nation.
It amazes me that with the wealth of instant information on the internet, people refuse to fact-check and will believe in and spread the most ridiculous rumor. I have a friend who bragged he doesn’t watch or read much news because all of it is biased one way or another. I told him it’s not something to brag about, because it indicates a choice he’s made to be biased that there is no truth or facts worth believing. So frustrating as a journalist and a respecter of science and logic that too many people fall for the most basic propaganda and feel entirely justified in doing so.
Right on, Cindy! Ignorance is not a badge of honor to be proudly displayed and polished.