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Posts Tagged ‘fake news

I am recreating some of my favourite image quotes I created some time ago. This time I use Pablo by Buffer and indicate attribution and CC license.

The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something. -- Jon Stewart.

No one really likes watchdogs because they sound the alarm when they sense danger around something they are protecting. But everybody needs them. So Jon Stewart’s call to be vigilant is particularly important in the era of fake news and false prophets.

Note: I am on vacation with my family. However, I am keeping up my blog-reflection-a-day habit by scheduling a thought a day. I hope this shows that reflections do not have to be arduous to provoke thought or seed learning.

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.

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The video above summarises this week’s flogged horse on social media. The tweet below was just one of many responses.

Was this tweet timely? It was, given how the news broke about how a passenger was bloodied and dragged out of a United Airlines plane because it was overbooked.

Was the tweet funny? Yes, if you have any semblance of humour and appreciate dragging in two contexts (plane floor and phone screen).

Was the app description real? It was not, and there are at least two major clues that the text was faked to get a laugh.

First, an airline app is unlikely to feature drag and drop on a phone screen. Drag and drop is typically done with a computer mouse on a desktop. The phone or slate equivalent is tap and hold, but there is no this does not force the joke.

Second, a quick search of the Apple app store for United Airlines brings up the app and its development notes. There is no “drag and drop” update.

Why make a mountain out of a molehill?

First, the tweet could be an example of a hook for a workshop or class on detecting fake news or other questionable online content. Such an ability is important whether it is a tweet from a US President or a local funny man.

Second, it begs the question: Why create the image, tweet it, retweet it, or favourite it? Answering this question provides insights on why people create such content. It gets to the root of the issue instead of dealing with the symptoms.

I appreciate the joke, but I appreciate the need to educate people on this type of critical thinking even more.

So when is funny not actually funny? When it is based on a false premise. When are facts not actually factual? The same answer as before.


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