Last week I read an article on the Denison Forum. It was an account of a husband and wife who underwent a DNA test at a fertility clinic. The results of the test indicated that they were actually fraternal twins. As Denison described, in detail, the events that led up to this amazing story, he disclosed the real story — everything about the account was fake news. After reading this article I wondered if everything that I hear is fake news.
It seems like where ever one turns today there is a charge of fake news by someone about something. Fake news is a charge being leveled at various news outlets by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Because of the concern over the effects of fake news, one often hears someone claiming to be giving out the real news. Various news outlets have program names and/or by lines aimed at convincing the viewer that he/she can trust them as providing real news. One program is called Reliable Sources, another refers to the No Spin Zone, while yet another claims to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news.
The term fake news is defined as a sensational piece of news which does not map to reality, or a deliberate spread of misinformation. Fake news has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate. Michael Radutzky, a producer of CBS 60 Minutes, states that fake news are stories that are probably false, have enormous traction in the culture, and are consumed by millions of people. Guy Campanile, also of 60 Minutes, said, What we are talking about are stories that are fabricated out of thin air. By most measures, deliberately,and by any definition, that’s a lie.
Fake news is mainly focused on today’s media and seems to be related to political agendas. One source states that the relevance of fake news has experienced greater growth in a post-truth reality. This statement identifies the real problem facing Christians today — we live in a post-truth reality!
Since we live in a postmodern, post-truth culture, how can anyone know what is true and what is fake when it comes to the information that we are bombarded with every minute of every day? It is so bad that in response to this crisis over fake news I read how researchers have explored the development of a psychological, “vaccine” to help people detect fake news. According to Dr. Sander van der Linden, lead author of this study, this magical “vaccine” is necessary because:
Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and replicating like a virus. The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible.
The researchers say when presented consecutively, the influence well-established facts had on people were cancelled out by bogus claims made by campaigners. But when information was combined with misinformation, in the form of a warning, the fake news had less resonance. One article shared the following:
Claire Wardle of First Draft News identifies seven types of fake news: satire or parody (“no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool”); false connection (“when headlines, visuals of captions don’t support the content”); misleading content (“misleading use of information to frame an issue or an individual”); false content (“when genuine content is shared with false contextual information”); imposter content (“when genuine sources are impersonated” with false, made-up sources); manipulated content (“when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive”, as with a”doctored” photo) and fabricated content (“new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm”).
There is no question that we are living in a very mixed up world. This dilemma is made clear in the words of the song Who Will Answer?
From the canyons of the mind
We wander on and stumble blindly
Through the often tangled maze
Of starless nights and sunless days
While asking for some kind of clue
Or road to lead us to the truth
But who will answer?
Is there a miracle “vaccine” that makes one immune to fake news? The answer is a resounding YES! Absolute truth is the only thing that will help one discern what is fake and what is real news. Denison points out that Agur, the author of one of the Proverbs, had discovered that God was the only one who is the source of truth.
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Proverbs 30:7-9 KJV
Denison pointed out that there are two lessons we can learn from Agur.
- We need God’s help to discern truth from error.
- We need God’s help to speak truth
As you and I try to navigate this culture that is filled with fake news, it is important that we take inventory of our lives. In doing so, there are some questions we must answer. Our answers to these questions will determine whether or not we will innoculate ourselves with the “vaccine” that will make us immune to fake news.
- Are you spending time daily reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word?
- Do you seek the filling of the Holy Spirit at the start of each day knowing He is the only One who can lead you into truth?
- Are you giving truth to your children as the only “vaccine” that will protect them from fake news?
Next week I will share with you what, I believe, is the most dangerous source of fake news in society. This agency is dedicated to presenting sensational information that does not map to reality and is determined to deliberately spread misinformation. You don’t want to miss next week’s post. In the meantime, please leave your comments below.