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Skiamakhos
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Thanks to all who believed. I've returned with some big announcements to make!

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Lately, I've heard a lot of people talking about the "fake news" problem and about the need for better fact-checking. I suspect that this entire conversation may be looking at the wrong problem -- a conversation which would make perfect sense in a different time and place, but not here.

During the 2016 election, we heard a lot of brazen, blatant lies. These typically were fact-checked by the media; the result would be stories like "Data: Immigrants don't actually cause hemorrhoids," which nobody who wasn't already perfectly aware of that fact would read. Instead, these would just give more publicity to the original quote, and people who were enthused by it would be just as excited to see it again.

The fact is that fact-checking simply didn't make a difference -- it's not that people thought that these statements were true, but that they didn't care if they were true. In Gingrich's formulation, they speak to a "deeper truth" which is more important than simple facts.

This is far from an original idea; the discussion below is about Hannah Arendt's discussion of it back in 1951. This "deeper truth" that Gingrich likes to talk about is "what must be true in order for something else to be true" -- in this case, that a sufficiently strong leader could "Make America great again" by sheer force of will, by pushing out all of those dirty immigrants, Muslims, and so on. Or in other cases, that all this talk about people's lives mattering or people having a right to use public restrooms -- talk which suggests that maybe you're going to have to make some real changes for other people's sake -- doesn't really matter, and you're actually OK and can be proud of how your life has been.

That is, the truth of these statements doesn't matter in their own right; it's that these are statements which, if you believe them, let you do something. It's the wish to do something, or to believe that doing those things will make your life better, that's really at issue here.

I think that whenever someone raises the idea of more fact-checking, we should take a serious look at whether that actually addresses the underlying problem at all. My very strong sense is that we've misidentified the question, following the traditional instincts of journalism in a democracy ("and the truth shall make you free") at a time when those instincts are simply dead wrong.

h/t +J Stone for the link.

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Re-sharing so I don't lose this. I don't currently do SQL but the number of times I've had to in past jobs makes this a Very Useful Guide. 

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Skiamakhos commented on a post on Blogger.
I'm currently (re)learning German, as I've resolved to emigrate if the UK goes ahead with Brexit. I'm using Duolingo (which also has a Spanish course), and also watching YouTubers like Deutsch Für Euch, Get Germanized & Don't Trust The Rabbit for their German grammar & culture lessons. I've just bought an old copy of the Oxford Duden English/German pictorial dictionary, which is useful because it groups words according to subject, so you could study all the vocabulary to do with (eg) the Livingroom, or Farming, or Jewellery in a given session. Two things I found invaluable with French (which my degree's in) were the New Larousse pictorial encyclopaedia & the Larousse Dictionnaire de Synonymes - the former is an encyclopaedia with loads of pics & photos, entirely in French, and the latter a thesaurus again entirely in French. So useful! Also - watch films that you know back to front with the audio & subtitles set to the language you're studying. Your brain expects the familiar dialogue but you see & hear Spanish (or in my case, German).

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Skiamakhos commented on a post on Blogger.
nods yup, it's a condition, never really goes away but you do learn to handle it better over time. Fellow anxiety sufferer here (with depression, yay.) 

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Popping this on here so my daughter can see it later on tonight. :-)
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