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Disinformation


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In the 9/11 thread, there was an occasion that a member said information that another member had posted was 'disinformation'.

I had believed that the word should not be used with regard to another member, but some people disagree.

Since there are no clear-cut rules on this, I thought it would be worthwhile to start a thread on it.

My thoughts were mentioned in the 9/11 thread, and are that if you give something the label 'disinformation', you imply that the person who said it put out disinformation (i.e. a disinformation 'agent'). I see there being a difference between disinformation and being wrong; the former is knowingly saying false or misleading data (i.e. akin to lying). That's why I suggest simply saying someone is wrong or words to that effect.

I think that calling another member's post 'disinformation', or calling another member a 'disinformation agent' (or similar) should not be allowed.

I foresee that there might be times when a member might refer to an external website - that another member quotes from - as containing disinformation. That might be acceptable as long as the person makes clear that they are not calling the poster a 'disinformation agent', merely that they are posting information from what another considers to be a 'disinformation' website. This could lead to problems whereby some consider that website to be truthful and accurate and others consider it to be disinformation, and the website is often quoted from during debates. For that reason I think it would be better to label somethings as simply being inaccurate, misleading, wrong, etc, rather than calling it 'disinformation'.

What are other peoples thoughts on this?

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In the 9/11 thread, there was an occasion that a member said information that another member had posted was 'disinformation'.

I had believed that the word should not be used with regard to another member, but some people disagree.

Since there are no clear-cut rules on this, I thought it would be worthwhile to start a thread on it.

My thoughts were mentioned in the 9/11 thread, and are that if you give something the label 'disinformation', you imply that the person who said it put out disinformation (i.e. a disinformation 'agent'). I see there being a difference between disinformation and being wrong; the former is knowingly saying false or misleading data (i.e. akin to lying). That's why I suggest simply saying someone is wrong or words to that effect.

I think that calling another member's post 'disinformation', or calling another member a 'disinformation agent' (or similar) should not be allowed.

I foresee that there might be times when a member might refer to an external website - that another member quotes from - as containing disinformation. That might be acceptable as long as the person makes clear that they are not calling the poster a 'disinformation agent', merely that they are posting information from what another considers to be a 'disinformation' website. This could lead to problems whereby some consider that website to be truthful and accurate and others consider it to be disinformation, and the website is often quoted from during debates. For that reason I think it would be better to label somethings as simply being inaccurate, misleading, wrong, etc, rather than calling it 'disinformation'.

What are other peoples thoughts on this?

My contribution, FWIW, is this....

I'd have as few rules as possible. Every restriction, IMO, is likely to cause 10x the trouble it prevents.

There are some obvious things to ban, given prevalent cultural mores and the need to keep the forum accessible to all, including young folk. No crude swearing or smut. Repeated abusive behaviour should be controlled, if it occurs.

But IMO, the most effective force operating in favour of good behaviour in a forum where people use real identities is peer pressure - and a desire to protect one's good name in the long-term. Potentially, anything posted here is online indefinitely. Who wants to be embarrassed by their grandkids using SuperGoogle in 2020?

Rules that govern behaviour in the realm of political discourse are almost always counter-productive, IMO. Suppose one bans the ability to claim that someone else is operating out of bad motives and/or is telling blatant lies. Such a ban also helps protect those who actually do these naughty things. Is that really a good idea?

These type of accusations, IMO, are inevitable given the suibject matter covered by this forum.

If someone gets stuck into another person with nasty ad hominem attacks, the likelihood is that unless they support their claims with very solid facts, they'll lose credibility in the eyes of the peer group as a whole. A subtle put-down from someone one respects can carry a lot more weight than a rebuke from someone one does not hold in esteem.

Different problems may arise when the identities of participants are not genuine or properly validated.

However, I think we mainly need rules that cover the norm. On this forum, I take the norm to be participation of real people with real identities.

My suggested general rule, in a nutshell, would be to have very few rules indeed.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Jack posted this in the 9/11 thread, and I think it's pertinent to the discussion:

My definitions:

DISinformation...an untruth which is deliberately originated by someone. It is

still DISinformation regardless of the person who later may be espousing it, whether

or not they are witting of the lie. If it was DISinformation when it reaches you, it is

STILL DISinformation when you pass it on, whether or not you are witting of the lie.

MISinformation...an untruth which is originated by someone who is merely MISTAKEN

in their facts and often without knowledge that the basis is untrue. If it is MISinformation

when it reaches you and you pass it on, you are only guilty of not checking the facts, but

it is still MISinformation.

A CROCK OF DISINFORMATION is a compilation of deliberate lies, such as Posner's

"Case Closed". If you bought that book and read it and tell others what it says, you are

spreading a "crock of disinformation".

Jack

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Jack posted this in the 9/11 thread, and I think it's pertinent to the discussion:
My definitions:

DISinformation...an untruth which is deliberately originated by someone. It is

still DISinformation regardless of the person who later may be espousing it, whether

or not they are witting of the lie. If it was DISinformation when it reaches you, it is

STILL DISinformation when you pass it on, whether or not you are witting of the lie.

MISinformation...an untruth which is originated by someone who is merely MISTAKEN

in their facts and often without knowledge that the basis is untrue. If it is MISinformation

when it reaches you and you pass it on, you are only guilty of not checking the facts, but

it is still MISinformation.

A CROCK OF DISINFORMATION is a compilation of deliberate lies, such as Posner's

"Case Closed". If you bought that book and read it and tell others what it says, you are

spreading a "crock of disinformation".

Jack

I generally agree with JWs definitions re dis- and mis-information, although there is something of a grey area when disinformation is relayed by an unwitting party. I think then it would be classed as misinformation. Let's not get too bogged down in a battle of semantics though. I generally agree with Sid as well - the fewer rules the better. Any rules that are in place should be as easy as possible for both contributors and moderators to understand, adhere to and apply.

IMO calling someone a disinformation agent is akin to calling them a xxxx, and if someone is prepared to do that on a forum such as this then they should be prepared to back that statement up with hard facts, or retract it. If someone wishes to post material from what others may perceive to be a disinformation site, clearly they should not be prevented from doing so. It's only by examining the evidence that individuals can come to a decision as to whether the evidence is genuine, or dis- or mis-information. Labelling that information (or its third party source) as being disinformation should be within the rules, but again any member prepared to label someone else's postings in that way should be prepared to back their position with a reasoned argument.

Reading through what I've just stated sounds somewhat contradictory, as it won't actually be very easy to moderate. Who's to say whether someone who has accused another member of posting disinformation has supplied sufficient justification or not?

It's at moments like these I'm even more glad I wasn't asked to be a moderator!

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Another factor (which takes into account the reference to future researchers making sense of what is produced today) is the existence of mis-dis-dat info is itself a real element of history.

As such, it forms a perhaps unwanted reality and should be dealt with. Who can in all instances make the proper judgements? (When it comes to such things as holocaust denial it's a relatively simple matter.)

Ultimately though (IMO) these things are dealt with by a 'natural' process that happens where children are encouraged to educate themselves, have access to as much info as possible, and processes that diminish 'thought police action', peer pressure, or anything that supports ignorance. A free thinking human with a minimum of neurosis tends to 'sense' reality. Knowledge is gathered as a youth, and wisdom comes (usually) with age. So: (IMO) Education, freedom, nutrition(health), and peace are the best defence against 'wrong thinking'.

If, as many in the developed world, do live in this type of environment, then one need not be overly concerned with some faulty information. In the end it tends to come out in the wash.

(an important sidebar to this is to ensure that more people in less advantaged environments have assistance from those who do have a surplus of the resources that can overcome this disparity) ie More schools, healhcare, clean water, food, and fewer bombs.)

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  • 1 year later...

Evan, a very good question to pose; and actually rather similar to a question i posed to someone in a PM.

Sid, i quite agree with your 2nd statement, as well as your entire post in general but i particularly liked that one.

FWIW, i began a post here and i think i was speaking politely both in general and in response to other members; and out of the blue someone just smacks me. Is this how infighting starts? Should we have a rule for this sort of thing? And i'm sure there will be some people who disagree that i got smacked. But they may not share my concepts of courtesy and polite behavior (Evan, you know what i'm talking about, you were there). Or maybe this is how you side track an idea to keep it out of sight? Getting someone angry is a tool that can be used for a multitude of purposes. I'm just thinking out loud here.

Then again, you could simply have the misfortune to run into an obnoxious person. No rules are going to stop that.

I believe the Forum is set up quite well as it is.

If you claim something as disinformation, you should have a source to back up your claim. And it may be important to do so, lest those who are new to a subject be taken in by false information.

And those are my 2 coppers.

Vale,

Randy

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Randy,

I think I know to which you refer, but I don't think it was as you describe. If you disagree with my opinion, I'd advise you to use the REPORT function and let other moderators know your feelings. If they agree with you, they will take the necessary action.

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  • 2 months later...

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