March 10, 2018 · 10:25 am
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?
December 24, 2017 · 4:26 pm
Way back when I was a pastor and my brother and his family would visit us just after Christmas, my sister-in-law fussed and fumed that my post-Christmas homily always focused on a somewhat ugly part of the Silent Night narrative. It was my habit/discipline to preach from one of the texts assigned for that Sunday in the Common Lectionary. I could not help it if Matthew’s Gospel told the story of the Slaughter of the Innocents. Musing from ‘Bethlehem to Bedlam,’ I’d always have to wonder aloud whether Jesus grew up with almost no friends his age to play with. Oh, dear, why do liberal preachers have to expose parts of the story so as to take some of the edge off the cozy feelings?
Well, I haven’t preached for a very long time and I’ve got the itch to resonate in a very dissonant tone from “Silver Bells” on this Christmas Eve. It is time to remember that it was very dark that first Christmas and still is.
It is no slaughter but all of us are threatened. It is a worse plague than HIV-Aids; it is more of a threat than Ebola. It is trumpacardia, so named as it strikes the very heart of our Democracy.
The outbreak has been identified as recently as mid-October by our 44th President, George W. Bush, when he spoke openly of a “nationalism distorted into Nativism.” Senator John McCain, himself at the mercy of a life-threatening cancer, joined in the identification of this disease when he spoke of “half-baked spurious nationalism cooked up by people [he didn’t mention specific names] who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.” Republican Senator Bob Corker aligned himself with this diagnostic team by pointing out an “utterly untruthful President.” Corker’s fellow Republican Senator Jeff Flake signed off on the frightening diagnosis when he similarly characterized a “flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”
That trumpacardia is dangerously contagious is evident in its infection of military stalwart Gen. John Kelly, daughter of pious evangelicalism Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and even straight-laced convert from Roman Catholicism to Protestant fundamentalism Vice President Pence, who regularly calls his wife ‘mother.’ All three indicate by speech patterns as well as cognitive dysfunction, that their brain cells have been altered, as though by genetic manipulation, to patterns not imagined except by George Orwell’s prescient 1984. Apparently nearly half the population of the USA has been exposed to and is showing clinical signs of this deadly outbreak.
Do not panic! There is a remedy! Researchers with capability like that of the World Health Organization, but not limited by the recently truncated vocabulary of the Federal Center for Disease Control, have traced the source of the outbreak to a Republican nomination and subsequent election of a real estate entrepreneur become TV personality, Donald John Trump.
Surgical removal of the primary source of the outbreak, followed by vaccination, researchers assure us, will over time cure the infection and lead to the restored health of our People and Land. Do not let suspicious naysayers deter you from receiving the inoculation. There are no health-related injuries from receiving this vaccination; there is no mercury used in its manufacture and it is not a live virus. It is though a remarkable preventative. This vaccination is without cost and is self-administered. It is most effective when received in daily doses from MSNBC or NPR. A milder inoculation can result from a similar regimen from CNN.
The warning label on the inoculation cautions that recurrence of the disease can result from subsequent exposure to FoxNews and anything controlled by Sinclair Broadcasting. Both these sources are being sold as truly effective but are in fact, placebos at best, but more likely counterfeit or fake drugs.
Filed under candidate, ethics, impeachment, politics, progressive, removal from office, Republican, Resistance, swindle, Trump, voters
January 12, 2016 · 1:45 pm
@thinkprogress has a posting that describes the swindle of the PowerBall jackpot. By recently raising the size of the field of numbers that must be matched to win, the odds of betting but not winning are now, at least, astronomical, if not almost infinite. Like almost all gambling supported by the State, this is one of the most regressive of all taxes because those who can least afford it are the ones who waste their money on it. It is, of course, economic insecurity that motivates the lemming-like plunge into the lines of hopeful purchasers.
It seems at least the season, if not the era, for insecurities and anxieties as prime motivation for masses of respondents. How else could Donald Trump be so far ahead of his Party’s fellow-hucksters? The chances of their obtaining the pay-offs he proclaims are nearly as remote as their winning their PowerBall purchases. That is not to say that he cannot be his Party’s nominee. One has only to remember the post-Weimar demagog who exploited the anger and angst of Germans with the promise of a reign of a thousand years of prosperity.
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” That phrase has been attributed to P.T. Barnum, but I doubt he’d so disparage his own customers. Even Mark Twain has been credited as its author. Wikipedia attributes it to a David Hannum against Barnum. The truth of the phrase remains whoever first said it. We will witness its truth as political rallies proliferate in the months ahead and even sooner when the PowerBall lines form again.