Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our Witness
by Sam Eaton (excerpts)
The Trump Administration is starting [their administration] with a new version of facts—called “alternative facts” by Trump’s spokeswoman. That’s not helpful. This is a bad start and a problem for the Trump administration.
What matters to me most, however, is that this is also a Christian problem, because Christians have gullibly consumed much of the fake news out there. And when Christians believe fake news, it makes us all look stupid—and causes Christianity itself to look foolish... This fake news is not a new thing. We’ve seen it before. We’ve seen it often in this election season, and far too often from self-identified Christians.
Christians have been sharing a lot of fake news. I’ve had Christians post on my Facebook page about #pizzagate, Obama’s birth certificate, and so much more. And I’m embarrassed that these fake facts are being shared by people I love—my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, I’m no fan of some members of the media at times, and I do think that some have been inappropriately connected to Hillary Clinton, and overly cozy with President Obama. And let me add that in the last few days, some reporting has not helped media credibility, with poorly reported stories on Rick Perry, the MLK bust in the Oval Office, and more...So, sure, some are biased and do sloppy or agenda-driven reporting - but many, many others are not.
But, regardless, this doesn’t mean that we should be so desperate to find stories to prop up our view that we indiscriminately accept anything that supports the person that we like (or disparages the person we do not). We should be those who seek truth no matter what. Christian, if you post fake facts, you reflect on the faith - and that’s bad for the gospel and it hinders the mission.
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Please Stop Sharing Links to These Sites
by Ed Brayton
The liberal side of the internet has a serious problem in the form of far too many websites that people mistake for actual news sites that use clickbait headlines and highly distorted articles to feed into the confirmation bias of their intended audience. And it works.
I see links to these sites on my Facebook feed dozens of times a day and it makes me want to smack my head into a wall, often shared by otherwise intelligent people who consider themselves to be skeptics. And yet they will share a link to an article with headlines like “Trump DESTROYED by MSNBC host.” Here’s a good rule of thumb: If a word in a headline is in all caps, it’s probably [BS]. And most of the time, if you read the article you find that it doesn’t fit the headline at all. The headlines are often wildly exaggerated or just plain false.
So why do so many people share this crap? Primarily because of confirmation bias, I think. … If the headline says something bad about [those they oppose], they’ll share it. If the studies are accurate, about 60% of them don’t even bother to read the article to see if it contains any evidence that matches the headline; if the headline fits the narrative in their head, they share it. Sadly, when you call them out for this and point out that what they shared simply is not true, or at the least is vastly exaggerated, they often get angry rather than being reasonable about it… So herewith, a near-definitive list of the sites that I think should not be cited. Print it up and keep it by your computer, or keep the list on your phone or tablet. When you see clickbait headlines, stop clicking on them, and especially stop sharing them.
Blue Nation Review
American News X
The Freethought Project
The Other 98%