If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. ~ Carl Sagan
One way to come to grips with the challenge We the People face at this juncture is to frame the information crisis in an alternate context. This repot by First Draft News is a useful tool to reorder the mental format for thinking. One year into the Era of Our Discontent, we struggle mightily to recognize the complexity of information disorder, to recognize that the very premise is “disorder.” We fail to recognize – or perhaps admit – that the complexity of information disorder online” starts from the premise of “disorder”. Consider this: https://firstdraftnews.org/coe_infodisorder/
The struggle to unravel the intent and complexities of our information state is a shared challenge:
- The Knight Foundation has just issued a summary of key findings of their study of American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy. https://knightfoundation.org/reports/american-views-trust-media-and-democracy
- The Sunlight Foundation recently announced their launch of the Website Integrity Project, a resource designed to monitor changes in government websites. The goal is to hold government entities accountable by revealing shifts in public information and access to Web resources, as well as changes in stated politics and priorities. Public distrust of federal government websites as diminished to a great extent because of distrust in the numbers and concern that significant data are no longer shared. Learn more about the WIP project here: https://sunlightfoundation.com/web-integrity-project – Note that Sunlight is also accepting applications for individuals interested and available to work on the fledgling project.
- Meanwhile Pew Research Center has weighed in with a major discussion of The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online. The intro squib notes that “experts are evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online. Those forecasting improvements place their hopes in technological fixes and in societal solutions. Others think the dark side of human nature is aided more than stifled by technology.” http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/19/the-future-of-truth-and-misinformation-online/
- Writing in MinnPost DC Eric Black offers an insider’s take “On truth, trust – and how Americans feel about them” https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2018/01/truth-trust-and-how-americans-feel-about-them
- The issue of alternative facts impels a few to abandon the quest for truth altogether. Journalist’s Resource, published by the Shorenstein Center, offers a helpful lifeline for those drowning in misinformation/disinformation. Entitled “When research findings don’t agree” the publication answers many, raises more questions for unreconstructed seekers of truth. https://journalistsresource.org/tip-sheets/research/reproducibility-disparities-research-cancer-reporting “For Weighing Online Opt-In Samples, What Matters Most”, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center explores the quandary of valid statistics. https://www.snopes.com/category/facts/
- Not one to get all of his news from Fox, Pope Francis has turned to the written word, if not the pulpit, to warn that “Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-francis-condemns-fake-news_us_5a68b76ae4b0dc592a0eaf2e)
- Common Dreams warns that “The big threat now is citizens’ lost hope for real democracy” https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/11/21/big-threat-now-citizens-lost-hope-real-democracy while George Soros laments that “Not even Orwell or Huxley could have imagined the ‘Totalitarian’ threat posed by Facebook and Google” https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/01/26/not-even-orwell-or-huxley-could-have-imagined-totalitarian-threat-posed-facebook-and-google
- To their credit, journalists of every medium, masthead/call letters, generation or political persuasion are expressing themselves in words spoken and written. Some use satire to have their say, as when Jack Shafer explains just why he “loves fake news…” – because “every time you stumble on fake news you uncover evidence of how free our press is and ow far the freedom of speech extends.” https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/23/fake-news-media-establishment-215737
We the People face today’s challenge with both heads and hearts. Take just a minute to heed the words and appreciate the attitudes of these wise gentleman as they speak with both: https://vimeo.com/253191 To read their position paper on Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression click here: https://jmp.princeton.edu/statement
Posted in Access to information, Freedom of Information, Government information, Information politics, Open Government, Trump administration
Tagged Disinformation, First Draft News, information literacy, Journalist's Resource, Knight Foundation, MinnPost, misinformation, Pew Research Center, Shorenstein, Sunlight Foundation, Truth in government
Learning a new language is always a challenge. When the language to be acquired is designed to confuse and conquer, the task requires readily accessible reference resources that clarify definitions and suggest appropriate usage. The challenge is confounded when the language is repurposed with wild abandon.
Fortunately, lexicographers and wordsmiths are at the ready to capitalize on the opportunity presented by a newly contrived language, particularly when the use of that language is designed to misinform the public and to weaponize the native tongue.
Following is a listing of user aids that have been hastily crafted to clarify terminology currently in popular use in the conduct of political, governmental, and financial discourse:
Alt-right glossary https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Alt-right_glossary
‘Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/15/post-truth-named-word-of-the-year-by-oxford-dictionaries
Your post-election glossary, from ‘alt-right’ to ‘fake news’ http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/us/post-election-glossary-trnd/index.html
Donald Trump Glossary https://qz.com/845040/donald-trump-glossary/
Glossary for the age of alternative facts: https://www.thefactinista.com/pages/glossary-for-the-age-of-alternatie-facts
The 2016 Presidential Election: A devil’s glossary https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/the-2016-presidential-election-a-devils-glossary/505901/
Post-truth, propaganda, and bullshit: a glossary https://senseandreference.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/post-truth-propaganda-and-bullshit-a-glossary/
Cyberbullying Glossary, Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org/glossary
What They Say vs. What They Mean: An Inside-the-Beltway Glossary. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/28/what-the-say-cs-what-they-mean-inside-beltway-glossary
Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.~ George Orwell
Libraries are places – they may be a shelf in a classroom or a grand memorial to a grateful grad, the hub of a medical center or an adjunct to the public square. It is those who envision the possibilities and shape the role of a library that make a difference.
As keepers of the record librarians have long embraced the challenge to expand access to facts and ideas. In modern times libraries in this democracy, have been quick to resist suppression of information and ideas – as well as other offenses to democratic principles that tend to rile – and inspire – librarians.
No wonder that, in this era of alternative facts and determined truth seekers, I’m thinking of the heritage of libraries. Recognition of University of Minnesota Libraries Day earlier this month prompted me to learn more about the ways in which today’s libraries and librarians are coping. (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4004&action=edit)
My thoughts prompted me to remember a cluster of library-related blog posts that my friend Jack Becker of Forecast Public Art had sent me some weeks ago. These are all stories that celebrate the library as a place with a voice – a voice that must speak truth to power. This armchair tour features amazing libraries that dare to capitalize on the power they have to inform and lead.
Though these magnificent examples of resistance may be a bit beyond the local library’s resources, it is nonetheless a fact that libraries across the country are speaking in a “socially acceptable” voice to support the right to know and the right to speak. For examples, just Google “libraries resistance 2017.”
Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. Walter Cronkite
Posted in Access to information, Freedom of Information, information power, Libraries and Librarians, Open Government, Trump administration
Tagged Libraries in art, Libraries-Art, Libraries-Free speech, Libraries-History, Libraries-Political role, Libraries-Resistance, Libraries-Right to know, Libraries-Right to speak, Library architecture