Arbitrary censorship on the Internet promotes "truthiness"
Boy Scout salute
What is truth?
-- Pontius Pilate
Book reviews and summaries on Amazon.com's website for "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society" say,
From Publishers Weekly
In 2005, Stephen Colbert catapulted the word truthiness -- the quality of an idea feeling true without any backup evidence -- into the public consciousness. Salon blogger Manjoo expands upon this concept in his perceptive analysis of the status of truth in the digital age, critiquing a Rashomon-like world in which competing versions of truth vie for our attention . . . .
From the Inside Flap
In True Enough, Manjoo presents findings from psychology, sociology, political science, and economics to show how new technologies are prompting the cultural ascendancy of belief over fact. In an age of talk radio, cable TV, and the Internet — the blog --- and YouTube-addled million-channel media universe — it is no longer necessary for any of us to confront notions that contradict what we "know" to be true. Stephen Colbert calls this "truthiness"— when something feels true without any evidence that it is. Here Manjoo probes the cognitive basis of truthiness, exploring how biases push both liberals and conservatives to select and interpret news in a way that accords with their personal versions of "reality."
Why has punditry lately overtaken news, with so many media outlets pushing partisan agendas instead of information? Why do lies seem to linger so long in the cultural subconscious even after they've been thoroughly discredited? And why, when more people than ever before are documenting the truth with laptops and digital cameras, does fact-free spin and propaganda seem to work so well? True Enough explores leading controversies of national politics, foreign affairs, science, and business, explaining how Americans have begun to organize themselves into echo chambers that harbor diametrically different facts — not merely opinions — from those of the larger culture.
"The news media are supposed to help us understand the world, and faster, better, more varied communication technologies are supposed to enrich that process of understanding. True Enough explains why things have so often worked in reverse—and why Americans no longer disagree just about opinions and political values, but about basic factual realities. This problem of 'truthiness' is depressingly familiar, but Farhad Manjoo adds useful information and insights about its origins, effects, and possible solutions."
—James Fallows, National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of Breaking the News
"Well worth reading. Make no mistake: this is no run-of-the-mill exposé of media bias, but a sophisticated analysis of the ways and means by which lies and distortions do so well in today's fractured, cynical media world."
—Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University, and author of The Bulldozer and the Big Tent
A major, largely unrecognized cause of this problem of "truthiness" is a sick, cynical Internet culture that condones and even approves arbitrary censorship of website visitors' comments and contributions. This arbitrary censorship not only prevents the presentation of a variety of opinions but also prevents the presentation of inconvenient facts and corrections of factual errors. And the Internet has enabled arbitrarily-censoring BVD-clad bloggers and Wickedpedian "bureaucrats" (Wikipedia's own title for top administrators) to reach much larger audiences than they otherwise would have. Furthermore, Wickedpedia and blogs are being authoritatively cited by court opinions, scholarly journal articles, and other authorities, making this arbitrary censorship even more of a problem.
-- Association of Non-Censoring Bloggers
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