Another dot in the blogosphere?

The race to fake news

Posted on: August 31, 2017

I shared this juicy nugget because it seemed to come from a reputable place (an Aussie educator magazine).

The article claimed to be from a magazine and it was. The author claimed to be a contributor to the magazine and he was.

The author claimed that our one of Ministers of Education said that we were winning the wrong race by topping PISA rankings. The problem was that minister did no such thing. CNA reported that he was not in the country, much less at the event he purportedly spoke at.

Shortly after my tweet and screenshot, the magazine edited the article to say that our Director-General of Education said those words. MOE responded by publishing a transcript and video of the speech.

As evidence against the original article stacked up, it was roundly criticised as fake news.

Why was this not news when the speech was delivered in June? Simply because it did not happen and the article was fake news. The original article is now gone, but the author insists he heard the quotes at the event.

Why was the fake news actual news? Might the fact that conferences — and journals, LMS, and courses for that matter — are closed by default?

It takes someone from within to do an exposé, but their information is difficult to verify because the system is locked tight by default. It is only when the system shares or leaks information selectively that we get contrary information.

This is why politicians take to platforms like Facebook to share entire speeches and/or to provide insights on the same. They do not leave dissemination and interpretation to a journalist, a leaker, or someone with an opposing agenda. Why react when you can preempt?

All that said, I wonder what could have been. Why was the speech not actually about Singapore winning the wrong race? The Finns do not seem to be unduly worried about the fact that they are slipping down the test rankings [source].

Do we have a distaste for humble pie? Is the act of baking such pie likened to witchcraft or heresy? Might the words be the final ones that precede political suicide?

If we have aspirations to be a Smart Nation and have so-called “future-ready” kids, we might need to ask ourselves if we are winning the wrong race.

For that matter, why even race when benchmarks become meaningless in different contexts? No one else can be another Singapore, Finland, or Estonia. If there is a race, it is against the worst of ourselves, e.g., using just tests as measures of worth. Maybe we should be worried about fake worth as much as fake news.


4 Responses to "The race to fake news"

CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: The race to fake news… via


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