Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The problem of sources

Unauthorized historian RFB points out that the problem of whom to believe is as old as history:
Last week I broke my sabbatical seclusion to attend a panel that my colleagues in the Department of History had organized on “Understanding the Trump Phenomenon.” The panelists covered a range of themes: climate change denialism, white nationalism, the global failure of capitalism, the latent illiberalism of American culture, and world-wide yearnings towards totalitarianism—all the usual -isms. And then they opened the floor to questions. Like a good fencer, I got my hand up first and said something about the need to think of American culture in more regional and long-range terms, particularly the differences in conceptions of liberty that David Hackett Fisher has shown to be in play, but it was already too late. The room was primed to descend into pessimism and despair, although since we're talking academics here—fellow professors and graduate students in History for the most part—it was subtle and came out mainly in the kinds of questions asked.

One question in particular had my colleagues on the panel stumped. “How,” one of our graduate students asked, after the conversation had ranged round the many ways in which the progressive liberal experiment in America seemed doomed, “do we know what news sources we can trust anymore?” Her voice rose as she spoke, in that way that I have regularly heard my friends’ voices rise over the past few weeks; even men’s voices go up as their anxieties kick in and they start pleading with the universe to make the results of the election go away. “How do we know what news sources we can trust anymore?” My colleagues made a stab at it: “Go with sources that you have to pay a subscription for.” But mainly they sat and shook their heads, clearly at a loss. They wanted to give the students an answer, but were distressed that they couldn’t name news sources that they themselves trusted fully, not even The New York Times. “It is a wild wild world out there,” they seemed to be saying. “Even we aren't sure whom we can believe.”
Read the whole thing there. It's intriguing, particularly as concerns the intellectual rivalry between William, a canon of the Augustinian house of Newburgh, and Geoffrey of Monmouth.

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Blogger kurt9 June 25, 2019 4:03 PM  

This silliness was part and parcel of the 1970's.

Blogger justaguy June 25, 2019 4:21 PM  

The silliness was part of the problem even before the 1970s. Ask most people about Joe McCarthy-- what they think, what the prevailing view, history books and the newspapers at the time--- all very very wrong. Fake news has been with this country since before the founding. The papers of the first Adams-Jefferson campaign-- full of lies, rumours etc. It never stopped.

So, yes historians have a huge problem in telling what is truth or tale from newspapers etc. Even harder when reading texts from past-- does anyone think that the few things in writing from 1000 years ago were accurate?

Blogger Wazdakka June 25, 2019 4:39 PM  

Fake news is as old as language itself.
I rather like the way that sounds.
Is anybody aware of any old or new testament relating to the lies of the devil. Not Jesus being tempted, but something more analogous with the term fake news?

Blogger Wazdakka June 25, 2019 4:41 PM  

Can I vote on the bible for being accurate

Blogger Wraithburn June 25, 2019 4:46 PM  

"Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God."
-- John 8:42-47

Blogger Dark Herald June 25, 2019 4:54 PM  

“How do we know what news sources we can trust anymore?”

Sorry, kid you could never really trust any of them.

The ones you like doubly so.

Blogger Lazarus June 25, 2019 5:07 PM  

There is a movement in journalism called Accountability Journalism. It is basically a rationalization to do openly what they used to do covertly.

What many in the mainstream news media loved the most about accountability journalism is that it allowed them to openly be what they always were: political activists disguised as reporters, chafing under the repressive strictures of the old model of neutrality and objectivity.

From Why Many of Today’s News Reporters Believe It’s Their Duty to Lie to You

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 June 25, 2019 5:12 PM  

You'd think modern reporters would have a kind of Hippocratic oath for their profession: "Tell no lies; report only facts".

Blogger Sean June 25, 2019 5:30 PM  

I think it was IowaHawk that said the media's job was to cover the news...with a pillow until it stopped moving

Blogger xevious2030 June 25, 2019 5:46 PM  

Looks like a chink in the armor, good news. That they don't have an emphatic ready reply of a bunch of liberal garbage, provides at least opportunity. Hopefully such chinks are opening elsewhere as well.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl June 25, 2019 6:02 PM  

I don't understand how that could be distressful. I find it so liberating when I can read/,listen to dozens of perspectives on topics. I don't want authority news. I want to hear what rando people think.

Blogger Balkan Yankee June 25, 2019 6:10 PM  

If grad students in history - of all disciplines - have to ask, "How do we know what news sources we can trust anymore?," then they should learn to code and be done with it. Because you can't trust news sources these days. Because narrative control. Because FBCIABCNNBCBS!

Blogger tublecane June 25, 2019 6:31 PM  

"the latent illiberaliam of American culture"

Wait, do they mean undeveloped or hidden? Because there have been countless openly illiberal movements in American culture. For instance, social justice.

Blogger Dave Dave June 25, 2019 6:37 PM  

If fake news is a given we might as well ban journalism and spread information through word of mouth.

Blogger furor kek tonicus ( LeMoron James loves knife murder ) June 25, 2019 7:00 PM  

"Certainly, in our own orb"

hah. William of Newburgh believed in a round Earth. what a sucker.

Blogger John June 25, 2019 7:01 PM  

I believe maybe 2/3s of what I read on VP, maybe 1/6 of what I read on Unz and about 0% of everything else.

Blogger Joe June 25, 2019 7:17 PM  

They need to read up on the exceptionally appropriately named Operation Mockingbird, know that it didn't begin there, and it hasn't ended.

Blogger Hammerli 280 June 25, 2019 7:48 PM  

Not only is the news Fake, the reporters are usually both incompetent and lazy. They refuse to bestir themselves to do even basic research.

Blogger basementhomebrewer June 25, 2019 8:41 PM  

They need to read up on the exceptionally appropriately named Operation Mockingbird, know that it didn't begin there, and it hasn't ended.

Fake news and big tech have done an exceptional job of papering over that as being a "conspiracy theory". Try doing a duck duck go search on it. Most sites make sure to refer to it as a "conspiracy theory" even while admitting there is volumes of evidence and numerous sources that verify the veracity of it.

A normie was telling me all about "muh Russian Conspiracy" about a year ago citing MSM articles to support their beliefs. I pointed out that not everything they read in the news can be trusted and mentioned operation mocking bird. 10 minutes later after they did a google search they switched to calling me a "conspiracy theorist" and dismissed everything I said. I just pointed out that they bought into everything said about "muh russian conspiracy" while calling me the crazy conspiracy theorist and left it at that.

Blogger Damelon Brinn June 25, 2019 8:58 PM  

I've been thinking for a while that the 24/7 feed from social media news sources makes people today overconfident that they know what's going on. They get by-the-minute headlines about every utterance from every source, so they feel like they're privy to all the facts that are available. Most of it is propaganda, and the thinnest surface-level clickbait propaganda at that, so they may actually be worse informed than their great-grandparents who read a daily newspaper. But since they *feel* fully informed, they feel justified in coming to instant, absolute convictions about it all, much more so than their great-grandparents would have.

Blogger Jack Amok June 25, 2019 9:48 PM  

I'm inclined to believe the news account that lists two little Ethiopians who are devils.

But man, reading the accounts of the fairie cup and the toad with the gold chain brought me back to olde school D&D sort of stories, and Tolkien tales.

Blogger Peer Gynt June 25, 2019 10:54 PM  


Blogger BalancedTryteOperators June 25, 2019 11:21 PM  

Why do they call it the civil war when there was nothing civil about it? It should be called the internecine war.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 25, 2019 11:30 PM  

I was in a colllege class a few years ago (I believe it was Media and Society). Anyways, Mannings infamous leaked video, deliberately (MIS-)title "Collateral Murder" came up.

I commented that, according to the date in the lower right hand corner, I was in Baghdad at the time the events took place. The unit Battalion for which the helicopter flew was on my base -- I know this the call signs of the Pilot and the headquarters he is talking to both start with Green Dragon, which refers to a particular aviation unit in the 1st Air Cavalry, and their battalion offices were on my base at that time.
2nd, I LITERALLY heard the gunfire from the Apache crew whose actions are depicted in the video
3rd, that the rules of engagement in Baghdad at that time, as set by the IRAQI PARLIAMENT, were
A) NOBODY except Iraqi Military, Iraqi Police, and Coalition Forces military are to be on the streets after sunset. Violators can AND WILL be shot on sight.
B) Baghdad's citizens are allowed to keep one machine gun or full-auto rifle for household protection, such weapons SHALL NOT GO OUTSIDE THE HOUSEHOLD PROPERTY LINE. Violators can AND WILL be shot on sight.
3) Anybody attacking Iraqi Military, Iraqi Police, or Coalition Forces personnel, for any reason, can and will be shot on sight.

There were no exceptions for "Journalists" (i.e. propaganda agents of a local band who JUST SO HAPPEN to have complete video of a terrorist attack from before it starts, and standing at just the right location... who sell the pics to Reuters, etc. to get cash to buy munitions, vehicles, and other materiel for the next operation), not was there any exception for children -- not even females. At this time teenage girls were willing to risk the wrath of their fathers (honor killings) rather than travel home from their boyfriends' homes if they wouldn't make it home by sunset.

EVERYBODY in Baghdad knew these rules, including the people killed in the video -- EVEN THE CHILDREN KNEW THESE RULES.

So, as everybody knew, that, regardless of anything else, EVERBODY IN THOSE VANS was DEFINED BY LAW PASSED BY THE IRAQI SENATE ITSELF to be a legitimate target, there was no murder. These were just idiots tempting the rules of engagement by
1) being on the streets at night
2) taking weapons that were prohibited on the streets
and 3) attacking a coalition forces patrol.

The prof rattled something about a book he was working on having to do with these sorts of things, and how he disagreed with my characterization

I asked him, in working on your book, have you communicated with any primary sources?
Have you read any of the reports from the battalions S=2 (i.e. Intel), or the theater (G-2)?
So you haven't consulted any secondary sources, either.

Have you read any reports written by newspaper, TV, or radio station employees, or people who freelance and sell stories to those organizations
Yes. So your book STARTS with tertiary sources.

Note that, as someone who was on the ground, in Baghdad at the time, and who heard the gunshots, although I did not see the live-feed at that time, I am considered a primary source with regards to the rules of engagement at that time. At worst, I am a secondary source to these events as I did not SEE them happen.... however, given the above situation, and the fact that video playback allows for time-shifting of experience, I'm definitely closer to being a primary source rather than a secondary source.

And your *best* references are tertiary sources.

MY words trumps ALL of your sources put together, unless you can track down the aircrew of that AH-64, and/or the operations officer for Green Dragon on duty that night.

He quickly changed the subject.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 25, 2019 11:42 PM  


"Is anybody aware of any old or new testament relating to the lies of the devil. Not Jesus being tempted, but something more analogous with the term fake news?"

Matthew 27:62-66, Matthew 28:11-15

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

[Nota Bene: A seal is just like a numbered metal seal on a truck trailer or a wax seal with an imprint on a letter, say from a king to someone whom he wants to have confidential communication, negotiations, and/or to give instructions -- if the seal is intact, it means that the item has not been opened, and therefore we can expect that nothing inside has been tampered with. Seals are not necessarily robust (i.e. preventing entry), but all seals show evidence of tampering.]
Matthew 28: 11-15
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Blogger Tim Gilley June 25, 2019 11:48 PM  

Mark Levin's Unfreedom of the Press thoroughly excoriates the NYT's decades of coverups. Almost none of the press is trustworthy. You don't need a book to tell you that since the 2016 election and ongoing news narratives have all been proven to be propaganda.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 26, 2019 12:07 AM  

Note Matthew 27:64
Pharisees always project.

Blogger Ty Richards June 26, 2019 2:44 AM  

Everyone says we live in a post-truth world now. But I’m coming to see it more as an emergence of actual truth. We are watching the final thrashings of a slowly declining deception. At least those of us that serve Jesus and the Truth.

Blogger Harambe June 26, 2019 5:02 AM  

Unbiased reporting is boring. And boring doesn't sell. The "best" case scenario is that whoever gets to decide what to report feels they are allowed to lie to you "for the greater good". I.e. they think it'll be better for you if you believe Trump did Global Warming.

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 26, 2019 5:09 AM  

Many of today's "journalists" think that lying for what they think is a good cause is not lying. Let's not mention he took 5 million in bribes from the solar power industry, at least he is for solar power, and that is goooood!

Blogger Lazarus June 26, 2019 5:32 AM  

There is a saying amongst the commoners thus:

Bullshit baffles brains

Some of them delight in spinning tales, especially for academics, in order to what?

Baffle them.

Blogger Brett baker June 26, 2019 6:06 AM  

A financial guy that used to be on a regional radio station liked to say the worst two inventions of the last 100 years, "are the quarterly report and 24-hour news channels."

Blogger BriarRabbit June 26, 2019 8:41 AM  

Can't tell if I'm putting this in the right spot.
HouellebecqGurl says "I want to hear what rando people think."

Yes! I scroll to the bottom.of "news" and, skipping the article, READ THE COMMENTS FOR GAINFUL KNOWLEDGE.

Easier to ascertain truth.

Blogger BriarRabbit June 26, 2019 8:51 AM  

I love how y'all just traced fake news back to the beginning. My first thought reading the OP was how Satan, within the first hundred years of existence or so, promised Eve things she already had - Immortality (already had it), to be like God (she was made in God's image), and knowledge (she could have asked God anything, He walked His creation daily).

Fake News - Peddled by Satan since Year One.

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