A Skeptical Call To Arms

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I am deeply concerned by the direction that Donald Trump is taking the country with his refusal to admit his clear defeat and his promotion of disinformation regarding election fraud. I am taking action.

While Trump's claims have been largely rebutted by bipartisan election officials, and his lawsuits are being rejected by a bipartisan judiciary, millions of people believe in his incendiary Tweets claiming victory and alleging widespread evidence of interference in the election.

It seems probable that he will leave the Whitehouse on January 20th, 2021, but he is not going quietly, and the damage that his rhetoric is both causing and enabling will last for many years, perhaps decades to come. Trust in the institutions of this country - elections, judges, the intelligence services, newspapers, and science - have steadily been eroded, and this last great assault by Trump will seal the deal for millions of people. Significant damage is being done to the fabric of society.

What can we do?

I'm a skeptic, a debunker, I investigate dubious sounding claims, and if I find them to be false, I try to explain to interested people why they are false. I've investigated many topics: Chemtrails, 9/11, JFK, the Moon Landing, Ghosts, Flat Earth, and UFOs. None of those topics are incredibly important, except to small groups affected by or obsessed with those topics. This assault upon our nation is genuinely very important.

Because it's so important, I'm going to largely pause my more frivolous debunking and focus full-time on the election and the transition of power.

I'm going to continue to investigate claims of evidence of election fraud, and if I find them to be false, I'm going to communicate that falsehood to as many people as possible.

I'm going to find other people who have done similarly and collate and amplify their work as much as I can. I'll find explanations in the mainstream media and major fact-checking sites, and ensure they get where they need to be. Making the information as easily findable as possible is almost as important as generating it in the first place.

I'm going to engage directly with people on social media, foster more mutual understanding, and politely try to show them what is true and what is not.

I encourage other people in the skeptical community, the fact-checking community, and the science communication community to do the same. Begin it now. Time is short, the Electoral College meets on December 14th, and the rhetoric and disinformation will ramp up as that date approaches. We need all hands on deck.

I hope my concerns are foolish and overblown. But I'm a conspiracy theory student, and I fear that this is a pivotal moment in American history. A whole pantheon of conspiracy theories are being born, contributing to the decay of democracy and an increasingly divided society. These theories, if left unchecked, will be repeated for decades. I can't fix it all, but I can't just stand idle as the days tick by. I'll do whatever I can for the next few weeks to fight the lies before they metastasize.

Mick West. Nov 15th 2020
mick@mickwest.com
https://twitter.com/MickWest. (DMs open)
https://www.metabunk.org/forums/Election2020/
http://youtube.com/mickwest (Where I post some election-related debunks)
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
All over the Western world, there's a deep-seated disagreement over "what's wrong with this country" that causes whole regions (and the people in these regions) to lose wealth. In my opinion, there is a related split on the political and psychological issue of what causes and prevents a person to thrive, and that makes the answer on the large scale connected to the smaller scale answer. Coping with social and economic change is not easy, and upheaval of government is historically a reaction that happens. Mick, you've got your work cut out for you if you're trying to address these underlying problems with debunking.

I believe that the first thing that must be achieved is the idea that "we're in this together"; the trust that, regardless of the above-mentioned disagreement, making our society better is our common goal; that each half of the population isn't out to disenfranchise the other half, even if it feels that way sometimes; that democratic elections are a way to fight over these differences without violence; and that this is still working.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Serious minded people should look at the world-wide trend.

Liberal Democracy across the world is losing. There's a long roll call of countries that have quietly been converted to Authoritarian Democracy.

The new cold war involves liberal democracy versus the democratic authoritarian state. Power is slowly consolidated through ostensibly legal means, and legal elections are held. Through a patient campaign the electorate is persuaded toward nationalism, group (racial, religious, ethnic, tribal, caste) supremacy and xenophobia. There's always at least one oppressed group within the country. Oppressed by government policy.

There is no sudden coup. Just a relentless repositioning. The general population is fine with it because you can lead daily life pretty much as usual, as long as you don't try to meddle with government affairs... and as long as you're not a member of one of oppressed groups.

There's no central power leading this. It's just an effective technique. It has worked at moving Turkey away from being the oldest Islamic liberal democracy to an authoritarian state. Hungary is the newest authoritarian state in Europe, with Poland close behind.

Trumpism follows this model and despite the name, it doesn't require Trump to lead it.

India is in the last stages. Central to the takeover is a move away from science and reason to conspiracy theory and irrational beliefs. Hindutva - Hindu Supremacy - includes a weird alternate history in which thousands of years ago an advanced Hindu civilization invented everything: cars, airplanes, TV; plastic surgery which could put an elephant's head on a human body... Ganesh is real. It's becoming state doctrine and being written into school textbooks. It's really a part of the narrative that Hindus are the Master Race... literally superior to us Under-Men.






I'll pass everyone on to this link
https://freedomhouse.org/report/special ... -democracy

Btw, Freedom House isn't a crackpot Internet thing, nor is it some kind of disinformation outlet
History of Freedom House-
https://freedomhouse.org/about-us/our-history

But there are innumerable sources I could point to, saying the same thing.
 
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Hevach

Senior Member.
The real threat of what's being done right now isn't that Trump will stick around. The popular election is over except for the crying, the electoral college isn't going anywhere, "dueling electors" is uncharted territory, but it isn't likely to do anything except drag things out a few extra days, and if Trump pulls an Edmund Davis and locks himself in the basement, he won't last nearly as long as Davis did.

The immediate damage isn't the problem. The real problem is that it's normalizing that this is how elections can be litigated in the US. That even an election as clear as any in living memory can be dragged out for weeks or months in the courts, that litigating mass disenfranchisement is just part of the process, that blocking vote certification is a valid tactic, that the transition can be delayed or even stopped (despite delays in 2000 the transition began before the election was fully legally settled, and both 2008 and 2016 it was allowed to move forward before the media projected a clear winner - 2016 by a full two days), that an incoming administration can be hamstrung by tearing the government apart during the lame duck session (something we started seeing at the state level in 2018).

And the problem with any kind of normalization - political, industrial, financial, religious, whatever - is that now the next step isn't as big. The status quo can be moved by miles by pushing it three steps and then "compromising" for two, because next time that step too far will be the magnanimous compromise.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
The most extraordinary thing that's happened: Very early on Wednesday morning (election night), Trump unilaterally declared himself president. This sort of thing has been normalized. This clearly dictatorial move was hardly noticed.
 

madsc13ntist

New Member
@Hevach: I wanted to offer some things to consider regarding the statement "the electoral college isn't going anywhere".
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is remarkably close to completion and while your statement holds, the electoral college doesn't have to "go anywhere" to be circumvented for the foreseeable future.

From Wikipedia:
Article:
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide is elected president, and it would come into effect only when it would guarantee that outcome.[2][3] As of November 2020, it has been adopted by fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These states have 196 electoral votes, which is 36% of the Electoral College and 73% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force.


There is also a CGPGrey video on YouTube that offers supplemental context (you may also see this referred to as the "NaPoVoInterCo" while looking for resources largely due to this video).
 
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Hevach

Senior Member.
I specifically meant this election - most states and every one under contention have standing law that already prescribes how electors are chosen - Article II of the Constitution doesn't mean those states get to re-prescribe the process after the election. So states can't simply ignore the election and chose the wrong panel.

And then there's talk of faithless electors. Several Republican boosters and Trump himself have tweeted of "millions of dollars" available to switch electoral votes without getting particularly specific about what those dollars are meant to do, but faithless electors are not going to significantly factor. First off, the vast majority of faithless electors have been electors for the loser spending their vote for some kind of protest or statement, and after the number of faithless electors in 2016 (both unprecedented and nowhere near enough to change any thing) both parties tightened their grip on the panel selections this year.

Dueling electors is... Kind of weird. Basically that's when, on the day Congress counts the electoral college votes, one state has more than one envelope in the pile. This can be because of a change in certification (in 1960 Hawaii changed their certification, Nixon as VP chose to only open and read the correct votes showing he had lost), or just because somebody decided to gum up the works (this hasn't happened but has been discussed several times over the last hundred years) because the Electoral Count Act doesn't actually require or even mention Congress checking the certification status of either set during the resolution process.


Of course in the long term a lot of things can happen, but in the short term that particular die is, for all intents and purposes, cast.
 
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madsc13ntist

New Member
@Hevach, All of these points are well taken of course. I wasn't addressing this specific election, only that specific statement. I'm quite familiar with the nature (and substantively limited precedent) of faithless electors and the extreme unlikelihood that we should be concerned about that specifically. In a sense, it was just a PSA for NaPoVoInterCo predicated on what seemed like the spirit of the statement being, "the electoral college isn't going anywhere (therefore there is no point discussing it)."
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
The Dispatch, a relatively new right-of-center news and commentary site that was founded by several former editors of the National Review, has a number of great fact checks on specific election fraud claims in its Fact Check section.

I agree with Mick that the adoption of counterfactual conspiratorial beliefs appears to be off the charts in conservative circles at this point. While it is true that the party that loses in US presidential elections typically flirts with a few conspiracy theories (and Democrats usually do so as readily as Republicans), I don't believe there has even been a full-on, top-down party-driven effort to promote such theories as we are currently seeing coming from the Trump team. Will Trump's incoherent jumble of claims and disconnected legal cases leave any resilient false beliefs and resulting distrust? Will they lead some people on the fringes to take drastic actions (such as hurting others in the name of combatting what they view to be a conspiracy against Trump)? Those things remain to be seen, but doubtlessly Trump's massive campaign to spread disinformation cannot be a good thing for healthy discourse and rationale choice. I hope Metabunk can mitigate some of the damage by serving as a great repository of debunks for at least some of these claims. It's hard for any one site to keep up any more.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/19/politics ... index.html


Trump knows he has lost and knows he has no chance to steal the election, but he's moving onto the next gambit anyway, which is the State Legislature/Elector switch plan. He's pursuing this line of attack to do as much damage as possible. It's more of a taking the next dose of opiate pain killer kind of thing than a long term plan. He's self-medicating with acts of revenge.

Giuliani seems to be playing to Trump and only Trump with his conspiracy theory campaign. The more outlandish this stuff is the better Trump likes it.

Trump supporters tend to believe anything Trump tells them. So he tells them things that are completely unreal. They want to stick with him, so they break down their own psychological defenses. That's how a True Believer is created. They do it to themselves. Trump enjoys doing this to people, so he's self-medicating by creating as many True Believers as he can. It's also another act of revenge against the country he hates. It's adding up to a scorched earth policy.

That's how Trump works. He does things moment by moment, but he's so consistent that his short term actions add up to a long term campaign.
 

Jason Bush

Member
I'm happy to continue the fight against misinformation on social media (it's the only social we have right now). I keep going around and around with the same dozen people on a few things. I'm hoping to wear them down with facts, logic, and respect (shout-out to Mick's book).

The persistent (dare I say blind) devotion to Trump is bewildering. He wasn't lying when he said he could stand on 5th Ave and shoot someone and people would still love him. An old friend from high school does not appear to have any hint of a BS detector when it comes to repeating what Trump and his supporters espouse. When I debunk her facts, the ad hominem attacks come out (that's when you know they don't have any true rebuttal). Still, I don't return the attack in kind and keep grinding away with the facts, logic and some humor when I can.

Even if I don't get through immediately, I'm hopeful with time. I also seem to gather support from mutual friends in the threads, so that is encouraging. Especially since Trump is much of a symptom of what's wrong with America, as much as he is a cause. We all need to engage and slay misinformation a little bit at a time until it's dead by a million papercuts.

Recently my friend asked me to 'prove' that Snopes.com never lies. She says they lie all the time. I asked her to show me evidence they do. She said "you're the one who likes to fact-check...you do it and 'prove' it to me that they don't lie." I said, "I can't 'prove' they never lie" then sent her this classic from the late great James Randi to explain why (take the me vs. her pressure off). What a fun example to illustrate a point, I'm still laughing:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWJTUAezxAI
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Recently my friend asked me to 'prove' that Snopes.com never lies.
I would refuse to be put in that straw man position. Every journalist makes mistakes sometimes; that's why I look for several reliable sources and try to get as close to first-hand information as I can when matters are important. Because Snopes does the same thing, they're trustworthy, even if they aren't perfect.
But you don't have to trust them: you can check their sources. With quality reporting, you usually can.

And that's how you can "prove" they don't "lie", aka intentionally spread misinformation: you can pick some of their articles at random and check that their sources agree with them. If can do that with 10 randomly selected articles, well, then they lie less than 10% of the time and maybe never, right?

The fallback position then is that the mainstream media (MSM) are all fake, i.e. "the system" is rigged. So doing that "proof" doesn't actually achieve much because the irrational belief system of the conspiracy theorist may just reaffirm itself.

So it may be better to pick an issue where both sides can have proof. The original "alternative fact" is the size of Trump's inauguration crowd: there is photographic proof and accompanying testimonial from the photographer as to the actual size, vs. the word of the guy who would like the crowd to have been big, but wasn't actually in a position to see how big it was. And you can demonstrate that Snopes is usually on the side that has the better proof.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
This is a topic worth pursuing.

A recent Monmouth University poll captures part of the challenges in doing so:

Most Americans are confident that the 2020 election was conducted fairly and accurately, including 44% who are very confident and 16% who are somewhat confident. The overall number of people who are confident about the election is similar to the 6 in 10 voters who felt this way before the election, but the number who are very confident now has nearly doubled from 24% in late September. There has also been a significant partisan shift in election confidence. Before the election, 55% of Republican voters expressed confidence in the process. That has dropped to just 22% now. In fact, a majority (61%) of Republicans are not at all confident in the election’s fairness and accuracy now. Only 13% expressed that sentiment in late September. Confidence in the election’s fairness went up among both independents (from 56% to 69%) and Democrats (from 68% to 90%) pre-election to post-election.
https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_111820/
 

Jason Bush

Member
I would refuse to be put in that straw man position. Every journalist makes mistakes sometimes; that's why I look for several reliable sources and try to get as close to first-hand information as I can when matters are important. Because Snopes does the same thing, they're trustworthy, even if they aren't perfect.
I agree. For brevity I only posted the main theme around my friend. I did all the usual, “show me where they have lied and let’s discuss.” She says they “never” can be trusted, so I asked her to bring up her top 5 clear-cut examples of Snopes dishonesty. She refused and tried again to put the onus on me to prove they don’t lie. So I sent the James Randi video. Don’t know if she actually watched it.

I’m actually very curious to see why she thinks what she does and bummed she won’t even lay her reasoning on the table for consideration. I even told her that I’m actually very interested to hear some good evidence against Snopes, because I trust it very much. It seems pretty obvious to me why people like her don’t like most of the fact checking sites out there. They’re even throwing “I got fact checked” out there as a badge of honor.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I even told her that I’m actually very interested to hear some good evidence against Snopes,
Snopes, like many debunking sites, do a fine job on non political debunks. (although they did copy one of my debunks almost word for word and used my evidence.. which i did not provide a source link for due to privacy concerns. ie. Snopes had no idea if i just made up that debunk but they used it. They claimed it false, but they didnt even ask me where i got my evidence.)

this "all sides" article does a good job of explaining my feelings on Snopes. basically they do have left wing bias on political issues. I've never paid attention though which writer, wrote which articles. I imagine (like all websites and news agency) some writers are more aware of journalistic standards than other writers.

But like Mick mentioned in his other thread, fact checking sites should be used by debunkers for their source links that are often included, not for linking their political opinion on what the facts mean or demonstrate.

instead of arguing with your friend about Snopes, you should just respect her feelings and look for other sources to prove your point. Arguing about Snopes just distracts from the original point you two are arguing about.

Snopes Media Bias | AllSides
 

Jason Bush

Member
instead of arguing with your friend about Snopes, you should just respect her feelings and look for other sources to prove your point. Arguing about Snopes just distracts from the original point you two are arguing about.

I do. We banter a lot and the Snopes thing was more of an aside with her and I. I was hoping she'd at least see that Snopes (usually) sources their info. Give her some tools. She's way, way out there and an admitted shit-stirrer to boot. Always in "FB Jail" and posts about 10-15 times a day when she isn't. 90% of which are anti-vax, anti-science, anti-facts, anti-mask, and 10000% pro-Trump. A lot of one-panel graphics claiming this-or-that with zero sources listed.

We have a lot of debates that honestly intrigue me, especially since she had a successful career in law enforcement (medically retired) where you'd hope facts matter. She's a cutie and has a lot of guys who agree, or pretend to agree with her for whatever reason. They take her side and engage with me on various stuff. It's an eye opener to say the least! The lack of logic and shunning of expertise never ceases to amaze.

Once her and I finally do drill-down to the details (when I can keep her from jumping around) and I'm making headway, the thread magically disappears. Recently she told me that "FB must have deleted it" and goes on about how they censor against the Right, etc. Even though we are found of one another (good friends since High School c/o 1990), I've now curtailed my FB interaction with her. I hate seeing misinformation getting published by her, but there's only so much I can do.

So much for "Just the facts ma'am." ~ Joe Friday
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
she had a successful career in law enforcement
then she probably doesnt like civilians telling her she's wrong. 80% of the cops ive dealt with dont seem to like that.. if you argue with them even nicely. :)

and if she has a chronic medical condition, you do have your work cut out for you. good luck.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
If you'll pardon a slight semi-digression, since fact-checkers such as Snopes are being discussed, this site intrigues me: an attempt to "fact check the fact checkers." I find it a bit useful -- not for re-litigating a particualr fact check, but for the bit where they look at the methods various fact-checking sites use, and look for such things as using the media to fact check other media, as opposed to tracking down original sources, or "fact" checking what are essentially opinions. Those who have not seen it might like to. So here it is:

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/fact_check_review/

I assume at some point things will go all recursive, with somebody fact checking RCP's fact checking of the fact checkers, etc! But so far I have not seen that happen.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
but for the bit where they look at the methods various fact-checking sites use, and look for such things as using the media to fact check other media, as opposed to tracking down original sources, or "fact" checking what are essentially opinions.
Yeah. So, I searched for "opionions", and at the bottom of the list of those I find the following Snopes claim being classified as "opinion":
Article:
Claim: "Susan Rosenberg - who has sat on the board of directors of Thousand Currents, an organization which handles fundraising for the Black Lives Matter Global Network - is a convicted terrorist."

Now what does Snopes say there?
Article:
What's Undetermined
In the absence of a single, universally-agreed definition of "terrorism," it is a matter of subjective determination as to whether the actions for which Rosenberg was convicted and imprisoned — possession of weapons and hundreds of pounds of explosives — should be described as acts of "domestic terrorism."

So, looking at the database entry, you might get the impression that Snopes was claiming an opinion as fact, when in fact they explicitly say it's a matter of opinion. This means I'm not trusting the database, it's misleading.

And the saying "the media checking itself" is also misleading, since it's media using *other* sources (and usually multiple sources) to check a claim, and that's not someone using "themselves".

I think the site might be good as a classroom tool to discuss where the line between opinion and fact actually is, but I believe it fails to be "real clear" about their assessments.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I found an article on "White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s 30-page compilation of President Trump’s voter-fraud greatest hits" which concludes that it's a Gish Gallop:
Article:
One of the hallmark characteristics of rhetoric from the White House is the substitution of volume for value. Trump offers dishonest statements with abandon, hoping that his audience will accept as true at least some small percentage of his blizzard of nonsense. But the White House also uses presenting a lot of accusations as somehow being evidence supporting the accusations, as though getting 500 people to say they believe aliens invented pistachios makes it more likely to be true than if one person said it. Navarro does this exact thing explicitly at one point, in fact, hyping widespread belief that something dubious occurred — belief fostered by Trump and the above-named media outlets — as evidence that it did.
 

Sicari

New Member
Long-time lurker of metabunk here. I consider myself a pretty moderate person politically, and very level-headed when it comes to academic exploration of any topic, no matter how charged it may be. If sufficient evidence is presented I've never hesitated to change my position.

That out of the way, there's two points I'd like to make here;
1. This community, or at the very least some of the comments, give off the appearance of very clear left-leaning bias. Naturally, with any political subject, there will be heavy bias. However, I take issue with using clearly-biased sources as the foundation for some of the debunks(i.e. linking CNN and calling it a day). It's not to say the conclusion is inherently incorrect, merely that it's a very easy trap to fall into if you don't otherwise validate sourcing. As debunkers I'm sure you're all aware of this notion. With this topic in particular, I humbly request a more valiant attempt to remain impartial and that we should seek only facts, rather than motivated reasoning.

2. I'm very interested in the (possible)debunking of these claims. As far as I'm concerned, any claims made by Trump or his extended legal apparatus are inconsequential to me. As these claims were being made I was observing the sources of those claims being compiled by various individuals and communities. It very much appeared that Trump and his team were just reading the headlines of these claims and running with them. I'm far more interested in the legitimacy of these claims than I am in knowing whether Trump was correct or incorrect on any particular topic. I'd like to share with you all a particular aggregate website that I've often sourced. You may well have seen it before, but I haven't seen mention of it. If it's an outlandishly incorrect source then please help me understand by elaborating.

https://hereistheevidence.com/
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
However, I take issue with using clearly-biased sources as the foundation for some of the debunks(i.e. linking CNN and calling it a day).

i take issue with that also. I'm a republican.

but your link is just as bad. Random unsourced claims to grab our eye when entering, then a list of "sources" that include youtube videos, twitters, foxnews, freebeacon? (come on),

why dont you just engage in threads of each specific claim, instead of calling the kettle black.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
...the appearance of very clear left-leaning bias.
That may be very precisely stated. Appearance is in the eye of the beholder.

FWIW, coming out of college I worked for a GOP political consultant for candidates like NC's Jesse Helms among others (Jesse was about the furthest right candidate I did work for, others were more right-center, all ere Republicans). At the moment, I am not a member of the Republican party but remain a staunch conservative. Some folks here come from the political left, some from the right, some from the center and some, I am sure, have little interest in politics. So when topics touch on the political sphere, such as the former Presidents disinformation campaign about election results in 2020, you'll certainly detect traces of that in people's posts. But the point here is, what are the facts? Engaging here on that basis is always welcomed, I have found. Probably more so than dumping a link to what appears to be a disnfo conspiracist site.
 

Sicari

New Member
"but your link is just as bad. Random unsourced claims to grab our eye when entering, then a list of "sources" that include youtube videos, twitters, foxnews, freebeacon? (come on),"
"Probably more so than dumping a link to what appears to be a disnfo conspiracist site."


"If it's an outlandishly incorrect source then please help me understand by elaborating."
As far as I have researched the claims held in that list, they seem very credible. As I asked politely; if those claims are unreasonable or false, please elaborate as to why, as any honest debunking effort would, rather than dismiss it offhandedly. Thank you.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
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deirdre

Senior Member.
As far as I have researched the claims held in that list, they seem very credible. As I asked politely; if those claims are unreasonable or false, please elaborate as to why, as any honest debunking effort would, rather than dismiss it offhandedly. Thank you.

im not engaging in a big messy gish gallop in this thread. It's against posting guidelines for 1. and 2 im not n the mood.

start threads on specific claims of evidence or join threads that have already been started and add your site's "evidence"
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
As far as I have researched the claims held in that list, they seem very credible. As I asked politely; if those claims are unreasonable or false, please elaborate as to why, as any honest debunking effort would, rather than dismiss it offhandedly. Thank you.
Which claim on that site do you think is credible? Pick one related to the election and make your case. That is what this site is about. Individual claims supported by evidence.
 

Sicari

New Member
im not engaging in a big messy gish gallop in this thread. It's against posting guidelines for 1. and 2 im not n the mood.

start threads on specific claims of evidence or join threads that have already been started and add your site's "evidence"
Which claim on that site do you think is credible? Pick one related to the election and make your case. That is what this site is about. Individual claims supported by evidence.
I had/have no intention of discussing any particular claim here in this thread. As this thread was purposed to 'calling skeptics to arms', I figured this would be a worthwhile resource for attempts at debunking in threads to come. Specifically, Landru, I stated earlier that they seem credible to me, nearly across the board.

'What this site is about' is debunking, which in my mind is to break apart specific claims and prove how/why they are falsifiable. Not that I am opposed to creating threads for specific claims from that site but it was put forth with the understanding that the site is, as it states itself, a aggregate resource for journalists. The site is full of claims. Unless contested it would follow that it is valid. Hence the general request for debunking. To look at it and take the 'can't be bothered' attitude rather than just analyze the content seems either to be a shortcoming or disingenuous. I'm happy to be wrong.
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
I had/have no intention of discussing any particular claim here in this thread. As this thread was purposed to 'calling skeptics to arms', I figured this would be a worthwhile resource for attempts at debunking in threads to come. Specifically, Landru, I stated earlier that they seem credible to me, nearly across the board.

'What this site is about' is debunking, which in my mind is to break apart specific claims and prove how/why they are falsifiable. Not that I am opposed to creating threads for specific claims from that site but it was put forth with the understanding that the site is, as it states itself, a aggregate resource for journalists. The site is full of claims. Unless contested it would follow that it is valid. Hence the general request for debunking. To look at it and take the 'can't be bothered' attitude rather than just analyze the content seems either to be a shortcoming or disingenuous. I'm happy to be wrong.
You said the site you listed was credible. Pick the best claim and support it.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
Long-time lurker of metabunk here.

Welcome to MetaBunk @Sicari! We're really quite a motley crew here, united only by a platform designed solely for getting to the bottom of things; to a resolute quest for truth even if that truth turns out to run diametrically counter to our personal biases and leanings.

1. This community, or at the very least some of the comments, give off the appearance of very clear left-leaning bias.

I think you are very right about some comments, but very frankly so does your opening (especially your sources) give off the appearance of a right-leaning bias, despite the fact that you claim neutrality and objectivity. By this I'm not saying you are biased. But we all do have our biases. Bias doesn't make one evil nor stupid. But it can be a great distraction in a quest for truth if not mindful of it, and not kept at bay when engaging in said quest.

Naturally, with any political subject, there will be heavy bias. However, I take issue with using clearly-biased sources as the foundation for some of the debunks (i.e. linking CNN and calling it a day).

I tend to agree. With a caveat.

We are living in a world aptly labelled as 'the post-truth society'. In most countries, of course, we have always been at the receiving end of news media and networks operating under various kinds of political and ideological agendas as well as commercial interests. Their content has always ranged from comparatively neutral to selective facts, to skewed commentary on facts all the way to highly suspect conspiracy theories and outright counter-factual lies broadcast as "fact" while endorsed by fit-for-purpose "experts".

On one hand, these agendas have become ever-increasingly glaring and polarized. On the other, the echo chambers and feedback loops of social media reinforce misinformation (and disinformation), leaving the average consumer completely flummoxed and inundated with a constant stream of highly unreliable fluff.

Essentially our post-modern world is one of mostly unintended, but sometimes deliberate, intellectual repression where we are left to feel as though we cannot really trust any source. Such is, however, our present-day context in which we are well-nigh compelled

(1) to muster great courage and perseverance to remain intellectually independent at all times
(2) to learn to utilize a basic scientific toolkit for weeding out, on our own, fact from fiction, as well as
(3) to develop, in the process, a sharp scent for truthful reporting and actual facts.

Once developed, the foregoing skillset allows us, and even encourages us, to read/watch almost anything fearlessly, ranging from the likes of Fox News and CNN (in the more biased extreme) to AP, Reuters and Neue Zurcher Zeitung (in the least biased and matter-of-fact end), without being easily fooled to reject nor accept offhand any particular piece of news. We learn to 'crunch' and 'munch' everything before swallowing or spitting it out. We learn to read each source within their own biased or less biased contexts, able to distinguish ideologically-flavoured commentary of actual facts from sound analysis and actual facts. Even the CNN and the Fox News often report facts, but frequently out of context while spiced up with highly ideological commentary. And yet, out of those two, for an honest observer (leaning right, left or nowhere), the Fox News is presently even more prone to indulging in glaring falsities and conspiracy theories than the CNN.

Personally I quickly develop nausea watching both. And yet I find them both useful if only to keep abreast of what's being fed to the sheep, and how. Personally, I would never quote either as a source on MetaBunk. What worries me more than either source individually, however, is any influential person or body telling people not to ever use a particular source. Mind control and obscurantism are historically far more dangerous forces than occasionally being fooled by one suspect source without exclusion of others sources. It's the beginning of a spiral descent into rabbit holes.

MetaBunk exists to help us not fall into such rabbit holes, and to climb out of them. It exists to help everyone develop the three-pronged skillset of truth-seeking outlined in the above. It's a skillset that the world desparately needs, no matter which corner of the ideological or political spectrum you occupy. Or none.

Once again, welcome to MetaBunk!
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
To look at it and take the 'can't be bothered' attitude rather than just analyze the content seems either to be a shortcoming or disingenuous.
i clicked on the "learn more" button under the 3 PA claims and i didn't learn more. granted i didn't try very hard because all i saw was a software program (that looks like the website made it) with a screenshot allegedly proving the claim. I need actual data and i dont want to spend 3 hours searching for it (esp when i'm not confident it even exists).

you can prove us all wrong by picking one of the PA claims on the main page and neatly presenting the data that backs up that claim in a thread. (vs. making us do all the work).

MB examines "claims of evidence". so we need to be able to see that evidence. i couldnt find it, but if you are already familiar with the site perhaps you would be so kind as to find it and present it here. (in another thread of course, but here on Metabunk)
 

Keith Beachy

Senior Member
The "here is the evidence" is a collection of news articles, some misleading. Some people repeat these misleading headlines, and content compiled at "here is the evidence", believing the false information, and spreading it. Maybe "here is the evidence", for many entries, an Oxymoron.

Left, Right, Center, Independent, it comes down to facts, not politics to examine claims.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
1. This community, or at the very least some of the comments, give off the appearance of very clear left-leaning bias.

I agree, and am not surprised that's the way it is. Most members here tend to err on the side of the rational and be quite balanced, irreligious, and committed to investigating an issue from all possible angles, etc. Stereotypically speaking - and maybe in reality too - those are traits more common in those who lean to the left than to the right.

Perhaps the real issue is: why don't more right-leaning rational, balanced, deep-thinking individuals join Metabunk?

I'd propose the answer being that the pool of potential candidates is somewhat smaller. ;)

(If that sounds snotty to some I can only apologise. But I do also think it's true.)

2. I'm very interested in the (possible)debunking of these claims.

As others have said, there are individual threads for claims - or, if not, they can be started by your good self. :)

I had/have no intention of discussing any particular claim here in this thread.

Oh. Okay.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
hy don't more right-leaning rational, balanced, deep-thinking individuals join Metabunk?
probably because when they do engage on MB they are insulted, called names, condescended to, dog piled on, and accused of being:

"irrational and not balanced, religious, and not committed to investigating an issue from all possible angles". (and you are way less offensive then many others on this site).

and like me, they probably receive a ton of warning strikes for doing the same things the leftys get away with. (hence my new signature..i miss my old signature...that seems to have fallen off. <the update must have wiped out our signatures.)
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I agree, and am not surprised that's the way it is. Most members here tend to err on the side of the rational and be quite balanced, irreligious, and committed to investigating an issue from all possible angles, etc. Stereotypically speaking - and maybe in reality too - those are traits more common in those who lean to the left than to the right.
It didn't use to be that way.
Article:
us education politics 4-6-2015_04.png

Well-educated people used to lean more Republican than Democrat (presumably because they're also wealthier), but that changed, and was strongly reversed when Obama got elected.

So there's nothing innately Republican or Democrat that makes the well-educated (such as contribute to Metabunk, perhaps?) lean one way or the other, but the shift in politics in this millenium caused well-educated groups of people to lean Democrat statistically. The Republican Party lost some appeal for the college educated.

Additionally, this is an international forum, and my impression is that internationally (e.g. in Europe) a center-right position (and everything left of that) would be considered "left" in the US. So, from a US perspective, international participation skews this forum further left, even though contributors may perceive themselves as conservative.
 

Woolery

Member
It didn't use to be that way.
Article:
us education politics 4-6-2015_04.png

Well-educated people used to lean more Republican than Democrat (presumably because they're also wealthier), but that changed, and was strongly reversed when Obama got elected.

So there's nothing innately Republican or Democrat that makes the well-educated (such as contribute to Metabunk, perhaps?) lean one way or the other, but the shift in politics in this millenium caused well-educated groups of people to lean Democrat statistically. The Republican Party lost some appeal for the college educated.

Additionally, this is an international forum, and my impression is that internationally (e.g. in Europe) a center-right position (and everything left of that) would be considered "left" in the US. So, from a US perspective, international participation skews this forum further left, even though contributors may perceive themselves as conservative.
The more ill-defined a concept is the less utility it generally has. The current left-right political spectrum is so thoroughly ill-defined that I can’t find value in it.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
The real culprit is tribalism, parochialism or whatever other appellation one is inclined to pick, such as particularism. Humanity is painfully learning the evils of particularistic creeds, ones that elevate one particular group of people above another.

Such creeds breed prejudice and conflict, whether they be political (partisan), religious, intellectually elitist, racial, nationalistic, cultural, sexist, socioeconomic or otherwise. All sides of toxic debates are guilty of particularism, whether intentionally or unwittingly. Primordial human desire to feel superior is its fuel. Vitriolic wrangling between zealots its early outcome. Historically, violence often follows next. MetaBunk is reasonably civilized but we're not free from this scourge.

As someone somewhat ferociously committed to independent investigation of all claims, I've long observed both strong points and flaws in left-leaning as well as right-leaning thinking.

It's easy to ignore our own bias against those that disagree with us, and to blame the blatantly hateful, patriarchal and racist groups for all evil. Yet even reasonable people usually regard, without even a fleeting moment of self-criticism, their own worldview as superior, and often silently judge others as “backward”, "stupid" or “corrupt".

Not only does blind opposition to all change fuel conflict, but also the tendency to divide the world into “us progressives” and “them backward”, “us reasonable” and “them superstitious”, “us 21st century” and “them medieval”. Both sides willingly fall prey to our primitive instinct of asserting group superiority.

Viewing 'the enemy' with humble curiosity and as someone to learn from, is its only antidote. Getting rid of the notion of 'an adversary' is its first step.

I think Mick is setting a good example of this in our little niche.
 

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