Our old friend Stephan Lewandowsky has had a brain wave: h/t to Geoff Chambers and Barry Woods.
A Bristol professor has told MPs they have the power to put a stop to fake news appearing on Facebook and other social media platforms.
It is possible for a regulation or law to be passed that tells those IT giants how to behave,” said the cognitive scientist,…
Knock me over. Who would have thought of that — apart from every dictator and tyrant for the last 5,000 years?
His big new idea has been done before:
…libraries in the Soviet Union were repeatedly purged of all books deemed “harmful”. … between 1930 and 1932, libraries lost sixty percent more of their stock that was already purged at least three times.
So Lewandowsky has turned up to the UK Parliament to tell politicians what politicians have known since 3,000BC.
But his new job title is oh-so-apt:
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, an expert in “misinformation” at Bristol University, said MPs could bring in laws to prevent anything that amounted to “hate speech” – a move already undertaken by law-makers in Germany.
“And guess what? Facebook hired the people to make that happen.”
Yes, let’s look at Germany. In 2017 the government slammed a 50 million Euro fine on social media companies for libel, slander, defamation, incitement, and they only have 24 hours to remove it after a complaint, “regardless of whether the content is accurate.”
Judith Bergman tells us the effect:
This state censorship makes free speech subject to the arbitrary decisions of corporate entities that are likely to censor more than absolutely necessary, rather than risk a crushing fine. When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state’s private thought police and given the power to shape the form of current political and cultural discourse by deciding who shall be allowed to speak and what to say, and who shall be shut down, free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale.
Meanwhile, the district court in Munich recently gave a German journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, a six-month suspended jail sentence for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a senior Nazi official in Berlin in 1941.
The court found Stürzenberger guilty of “disseminating the propaganda of anti-constitutional organizations”. While the mutual admiration that once existed between al-Husseini and German Nazis is an undisputed historical fact, now evidently history is being rewritten…
Lewandowsky plan: Censorship, 1: Truth, 0.
But wait, it’s not censorship, because Lewandowsky says so. Back to the Bristol Post:
The city academic, who has previously worked in both Australia and the US, said social media outlets should not be censored but called for stronger “regulation” of the big players.
Well, that’s alright then. If we redefine the word censor to mean something completely different, he would be correct. But what about the truth of what the word censorship used to mean?
Wait for the grand insight from the “expert on misinformation”:
Prof Lewandowsky said … the “very concept of the knowability of truth” was now “under attack” in UK society.
Yes, Truth itself is under attack, and Lewandowsky is apparently the one doing it.
Copy Germany, he says; speak the truth and end up in jail?
The genius back up plan is to get there first with a smear by association:
The sneaky other plan from Lewandowsky himself:
Get to people before the misinformation does, then there’s evidence to show that they will be able to filter it out better. One example is a recent study which I published with colleagues last year where we told people about the way the tobacco industry in the 50s and 60s was trying to create the appearance of a scientific debate about tobacco, when in fact the science was quite clear. Once you remind people of that precedent they then became extremely resilient to misinformation about climate change which followed the same playbook. So it is possible to give people inoculation like a vaccine almost against misinformation by pointing to specific rhetorical strategies that are misleading. But you have to get to them first.
Go right ahead, Stephan. Rush in with your logical fallacy. People will be “extremely resilient” until the next person points out that any professor calling people “climate deniers” and confusing tobacco with the planetary climate is not much of a scientist. Say, let’s use the handy Tobacco Tool of Truth! Cut through complex debates in an instant. Doctors are always right, have some Vioxx. The Government is always right, eat more margarine! Renewables are cheap, pay your electricity bill.
But seriously, it’s true that paid hacks from Big Tobacco were trying to create the illusion of debate. But what stops paid hacks from multinational-renewables firms trying to falsely create the illusion that there’s no debate? You know, the science is clear, wind farms will fix the climate! (Give us your money).
Big-Renewables was a $326 billion dollar industry last time I looked at it. That’s not too shabby. Using the Tobacco Truth wand and language of that battle, Panasonic, big battery maker, “buys” public experts who suggest that “The Science” says we need electric cars and solar panels.
When nice honest people explain why his trick is a cheap smear by association — blurring tobacco, holocaust deniers and skeptical scientists (who walked on the moon and won real Nobel Prizes), the post-post-Lewandowsky crowd will be inoculated (so to speak) — against his cheap propaganda.
Free speech works both ways, but only one side of the debate is afraid to let the other speak.