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My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it’s not Orwell, he warned, it’s Brave New World

As my father [Neil Postman] pointed out, a written sentence has a level of verifiability to it: it is true or not true – or, at the very least, we can have a meaningful discussion over its truth. (This was pre-truthiness, pre-“alternative facts”.) But an image? One never says a picture is true or false. It either captures your attention or it doesn’t. The more TV we watched, the more…

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Journalists call out White House claims on terror reporting

The easily-disproved surface-level claim, that the media have not “adequately” reported on terror, is nerd-baiting. What’s more important to the White House seems to be that the public fear imminent and ongoing attacks by Muslims, and now journalists around the world are reminding the public that they covered all these incidents (including minor ones, such as knife attacks in which the only casualty was the terrorist), which keeps those incidents…

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Close reading is hard to do in a state of normalized outrage.

So this “Muslim ban” thing… is a ban or not? Does it even have to do with Muslims or not? In the Washington Post, scholar Tom Nichols writes: Trump promised a Muslim ban during the campaign. But the executive order now running into multiple challenges is not actually a Muslim ban: It affects the citizens, regardless of faith, of several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa but has…

Hacking the Attention Economy

The techniques that are unfolding are hard to manage and combat. Some of them look like harassment, prompting people to self-censor out of fear. Others look like “fake news”, highlighting the messiness surrounding bias, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda. There is hate speech that is explicit, but there’s also suggestive content that prompts people to frame the world in particular ways. Dog whistle politics have emerged in a new form of…