randombio.com | commentary
Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hyperbole is literally everywhere

If all the fake news, exaggerations, and propaganda are eliminated from the Internet, there won't be too much left.

How would you classify these statements?

Technically they're not fake news; they're hyperbolic statements used as propaganda. They're presented as if they were facts, but in fact they're opinions and it would be silly to try to debunk them.

What's happening is that words—dust, Hitler, racist, rape, and pollutant—are being re-defined by the speakers, allowing them to make an obviously false statement and use it to express a political opinion.

In each case, the value-laden word is expanded far beyond its original meaning. So they aren't metaphors either: the speaker believes they represent a literal truth. In metaphors, the literary value arises from the fact that the definitions are not expanded. Doing so would ruin the comparison:

If someone or some fake-news-detecting computer program tried to debunk the statement that children are roses, he, she, or it would only end up looking foolish.

Related to this is the fake prediction:

These aren't real predictions; they are hyperbolic statements expressing the fears or hopes of the speaker. Yet how do we distinguish them from these predictions, each of which came true?

A hundred years ago, anyone making those predictions would have been put away and quite possibly lobotomized.

People get caught up in politics (from the Greek poli = city and tics = bloodsucking insects*). They don't believe what they're saying is really true, but they hope that others will believe it and act on it. This strikes me as a lot more dangerous than some kid in Macedonia making up an implausible fake story, or some person claiming that Hillary Clinton is a “real person,” as scary as that thought may be.

The people running Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia are searching for ways to block stories that social justice warriors think are ‘fake,’ presumably out of sympathy with the warriors' ideology. But fakeness is a protean characteristic. Language is inherently imprecise because our senses give us an inaccurate perception of the world. Everything we discuss is fake to some degree, from the color of the Sun to the size of your favorite porn star's boobs. If they try to eliminate everything fake off teh interwebs, there might not be very much left.

* Yes, an old joke.

created apr 30 2017; last edited apr 30 2017, 7:18 am

See also

Wikitribune is part of the problem
It is theoretically impossible for the wisdom of crowds to detect fake news.

What really causes virtue signaling?
Not only narcissism, but also fear, and fear of fear itself, I fear

The war over fake definitions
Fake definitions aren't just intellectual sophistries any more.

On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise
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