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    • I listened to a fascinating interview between Kara Swisher and Jane Gunter, an OB-GYN who has a popular blog devoted to dispelling some dangerous medical misinformation that seems to take hold on the Internet. Sometimes she contributes to the New York Times, as she did with this: Here Are Things Not to Put in Your Vagina (pass on the lemon juice and garlic).

      She tried to dispel some information Gwyneth Paltrow puts out, such as bras causing breast cancer, but Paltrow's company replied that Dr. Gunter is in the pocket of big lingerate.

      Over the years Dr. Gunter has been at this, she says the Internet seems to have gone from a source of information to a source of misinformation. She said doctors like it when patients research their conditions, but only if they read credible sites. She happily recommends them on her blog. As it stands, self-diagnosis on the Internet is less than 50% reliable, less than a coin flip.

      Right after, I heard an interview with Matt Cutts, known for his work on Google's search engine. Something he pointed out is Google's search algorithm is based in part on popularity, and for whatever reason, anti-vaxxers are much more active on the Internet than people who believe in vaccines. That makes a dilemma for Google.

      Someone on Facebook invited me to an anti-vaccine group with >100,000 members and suddenly there I was, listed as a member of the group for all to see, not knowing I was even in it.

      So... What can we do?

    • I gave up and gave in. I think the only way is to disconnect completely. That would disconnect my income and so much more. I’m going with if you can’t beat em join em.

      We really do need each other in the end. We don’t do very well alone. Now if we can figure a way to all get along.

    • I wonder if we're making too big a deal about fake news as a long term problem. Much of the complaining seems to be coming from from Donald Trump, who has very good reasons to want us to disbelieve the truth. How different is InfoWars from The National Inquirer, which always amused me in supermarket lines with its headlines about babies of pirates being born with a wooden leg? Most people ignore both for good reason. Misinformation is not a new invention. Now it's true that social media have lowered the cost of entry into the information market, but hasn't that meant that both unreliable and reliable sources have multiplied? It's still up to us as individuals to cast a critical eye on what is being claimed. That has always been true. The Internet may make absurd ideas go viral, but it also enables us to debunk them easily if we care to.

    • While it does seem that misinformation spreads at alarming levels these days ("The truth barely puts its pants on before a lie has already traveled around the world" - can't recall who said that), it's nothing new.

      "In fact, humans have always lived in the age of post-truth. Homo sapiens is a post-truth species, whose power depends on creating and believing fictions. Ever since the stone age, self-reinforcing myths have served to unite human collectives. Indeed, Homo sapiensconquered this planet thanks above all to the unique human ability to create and spread fictions. We are the only mammals that can cooperate with numerous strangers because only we can invent fictional stories, spread them around, and convince millions of others to believe in them. As long as everybody believes in the same fictions, we all obey the same laws, and can thereby cooperate effectively.

      So if you blame Facebook, Trump or Putin for ushering in a new and frightening era of post-truth, remind yourself that centuries ago millions of Christians locked themselves inside a self-reinforcing mythological bubble, never daring to question the factual veracity of the Bible, while millions of Muslims put their unquestioning faith in the Qur’an. For millennia, much of what passed for “news” and “facts” in human social networks were stories about miracles, angels, demons and witches, with bold reporters giving live coverage straight from the deepest pits of the underworld. We have zero scientific evidence that Eve was tempted by the serpent, that the souls of all infidels burn in hell after they die, or that the creator of the universe doesn’t like it when a Brahmin marries an Untouchable – yet billions of people have believed in these stories for thousands of years. Some fake news lasts for ever." - Yuval Noah Harari, full interview HERE.

      Of course the fact that fake news isn't a new phenomenon doesn't automatically render it harmless; but perhaps critical thinking is the new literacy?.. In the dark ages, ability to read meant enlightenment and access to knowledge. Nowadays, perhaps it's the ability to think critically and look at the world analytically. Tomorrow... AI and algorithms will take over:)

    You've been invited!