Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Old fashioned lies or bullshit?

If I refer you to an environmental, medical or nutritional story, I do try to use a responsible source, whether it’s about chocolate, red wine, vaccines or pollution from balloons. There are a lot of scare stories on Facebook and the Internet.  Best not to pass them along.

bullshit button

I wish there were a better word, but this does seem to cover the territory.
Does the story…
1. …feature a powerless, helpless, or disadvantaged victim?
2. …push a political or identity hot button?
3. …result in the most dramatic outcome possible (death versus injury)?
4. …include irrelevant details (details not directly relevant to the crux of the situation)?
5. …suggest a simplistic next step or action (get rid of X, stop eating Y)?
6. …include a “twist” in the story, a surprise, or a big reveal?
7. …feature “scientism” (little evidence with big conclusions)?
8. …include hard to verify evidence (no links to reputable source, or only links to other non-authoritative sources)?
9. …use anecdotal versus statistical corroborating evidence?
10. …make grammatical or spelling errors, or use clumsy language?
11. …use over the top emotional appeals incongruent with the situation?
12. …use scientific jargon (e.g. “dihydrogen oxide” instead of the more common “water”)?
13. …attempt to be relatable using the experience of people “like you”?
14. …make spurious correlations (seeing patterns of related items that could have other causes)?
15. …dangle dread (chemicals!) without explaining the context of risks?
16. …push for urgent, immediate action?
17. …include charts, graphs, images, or videos that don’t have anything to do with the core features of the story?
18. …hint at a conspiracy, that someone is hiding something (ideally, a “big corporation” or “big government”)?
19. …publish first in a “bullshit attractor” (TED Talk, Facebook, etc.)?
20. …include statistics touting its popularity (e.g. how many people are talking about this)?

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