American Thinker’s Apology

American Thinker and contributors Andrea Widburg, R.D. Wedge, Brian Tomlinson, and Peggy Ryan have published pieces [Google search] on that falsely accuse US Dominion Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation (collectively “Dominion”) of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump. These pieces rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.

These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact. Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.

It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion’s track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error.

The 9 core Principles of Journalism

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
  3. Its essence is discipline of verification
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience

Understanding and Reducing the Spread of Misinformation Online

Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online
Authors: Gordon Pennycook, Ziv Epstein, Mohsen Mosleh, Antonio Arechar, Dean Eckles, David Rand
Created on November 13, 2019

Supplemental Materials:

Accuracy prompts decrease sharing of false and misleading news content
Contributors: Gordon Pennycook, David Rand
Date created: 2019-08-29 12:07 AM

Twitter thread by David Rand:

🚨Working paper alert!🚨 "Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online"

We introduce a behavioral intervention (accuracy salience) & show in surveys+field exp w >5k Twitter users that it increases quality of news sharing


— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We first ask why people share misinformation. It is because they simply can't assess the accuracy of information?

Probably not!

When asked about accuracy, MTurkers rate true headlines much higher than false. But when asked if theyd share online, veracity has little impact

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

So why this disconnect between accuracy judgments and sharing intentions? Is it that we are in a "post-truth world" and people no longer *care* much about accuracy?

Probably not!

Those same Turkers overwhelmingly say that its important to only share accurate information.

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We propose the answer is *distraction*: this accuracy motive is overshadowed in social media context by other motives, e.g. attracting/pleasing followers or signaling group membership. This contrasts w post-truth account where people are aware of (non)veracity but share anyway

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We test these views by making concept of accuracy top-of-mind. If people already recognize whether content is accurate but just don’t care much, accuracy salience should have no effect. But if problem is distraction, then accuracy salience should make people more discerning.

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

In 3 preregistered exps (total N=2775) w MTurkers & ~representative sample, we have subjects in Treatment rate the accuracy of 1 nonpolitical headline at the study's outset. As predicted, this reduces sharing intentions for false (but not true) headlines relative to control.

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

Finally, we test our intervention "in the wild" on Twitter. We build up a follower-base of users who retweet Breitbart or Infowars. We then send each user a DM asking them to judge the accuracy of a nonpolitical headline (w DM date randomly assigned to allow causal inference)

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We quantify quality of their tweets using fact-checker trust ratings of 60 news sites. At baseline, our users share links to quite low-trustworthiness sites – mostly Brietbart, DailyCaller plus Fox. We then compare link quality pre-treatment vs the 24 hrs after receiving DM

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We find a significant increase in the quality of news posted after receiving the accuracy-salience DM: 1.4% increase in avg quality, 3.5% increase in summed quality, 2x increase in discernment. Users shift from DailyCaller/Breitbart to NYTimes!

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

We hope these studies will lead to more work in behavioral science on social media sharing & that our Twitter method to more field exps.

We also hope platforms will take note, as our intervention is easily implementable. Could lead to less misinfo w/o centralized censorship!

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

I'm extremely excited about this project, which was led by @GordPennycook @_ziv_e @MohsenMosleh , with further invaluable input from coauthors @AaArechar @deaneckles

Please let us know what you think: comments, critiques, suggestions etc. Thanks!!

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 17, 2019

Because of the nature of our experimental design, we weren't really powered to test for long-term effects. My guess is that it probably didn't last that long – but its a treatment that the platforms could deliver regularly (e.g. with pop-ups in the newsfeed)

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 19, 2019

Totally agree! And philanthropists could buy ads delivering the treatment to misinfo sharers

— David G. Rand (@DG_Rand) November 19, 2019

For RT:

I added @DG_Rand's "Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online" thread to my collection of tweets:

— Götz Kluge (@Bonnetmaker) January 12, 2020

Saudi Kidnap-and-Murder Squad Struck 12 times in 2 Years

News from Donald Trumps’s and Jared Kushner’s business friends:

Think there's no serious reporting anymore?

Article below exposes a Saudi government kidnap-and-murder squad that struck 12 times in 2 years, including murdering @washingtonpost columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Super sophisticated, very costly reporting:

— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) March 17, 2019


German ZDF Shows What BBC Failed to Show

A German TV reporter appears at @guardian for an interview. "You're doing a whole hour on Brexit crimes?" I say. No British broadcaster has done that. "In Germany, we think this is a v important topic. It affects the entire future of Europe. People really need to know the truth."

— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) March 21, 2019

@DirkLaabs bring it on! You've got now many new friends in the UK! When do we finally get a debate with politicians & ordinary citizens about it as Brexit is part of a much bigger picture? @guyverhofstadt @GrahameLucas @AuroraBlogspot #FBPE @GenreResearch

— Werner Trapmann #PECS @EU27k (@WernerT_Man) March 21, 2019

One has to be logged on to YouTube to use this.
For those w/o a YouTube account, I uploaded the translation 👇

— Nuclear Football (@EuphoricEuler) March 21, 2019

Trump Is Playing the Media

I think that a very important point in Jared Yates Sexton‘s twitter thread is the suggestion that the media in the US [in my view not only the US] have a really bad history of collapsing political maneuvering and actual reality. Donald Trump understood that development of the media, and with his wall rhetorics he quite consequently created a situation where he took something that was just a mnemonic device, something “that wasn’t real and trusted that the media would then make it real”.

The too predictable echoing of rhetorics (eristics actually) is not something which only Trump can relay on. People like Nigel Farage in the UK play the press in Trump’s way as well. The facts of the Brexit just disappear in all the eristic noise which keeps the media very busy.

Actually, I believe that Trump and Farage need what they call “fake news” media just as they are to instigate permanent exitement. Unfortunately the media nicely play along with what Trump and Farage expects them to do. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the game could be changed within the media. Therefore I assigned a “hope” tag to this thread, because responsible people in the media could tackle this issue without waiting for a change in the present communications strategies of politicians.

Journalists have no choice if they want to survive as journalists. The game needs to be changed simply “because if it doesn’t we’re going to end up in a nightmarish hellscape where meaning’s not just broken, it’s lost forever.” belongs to an important thread which I compiled in Jared Yates Sexton showed how Trump is playing the press. Trump won't change his way, but the media can do it by stopping to echoing rhetorics (eristics) so predictably.

— Goetz Kluge (@Bonnetmaker) January 24, 2019

Full thread of Jared Yates Sexton’s tweet:

Hey, so, this government shutdown narrative has swallowed itself and been bled of all meaning. Let’s get down, on the record, the important facets of this story that are getting lost and prevent its resolution, as well as see where this thing went so, so wrong. 1/

First of all. There’s no wall. There isn’t going to be a wall. There was never going to be a wall. It’s a metaphor, a story that was constructed by Trump [it probably was constructed for Trump in 2014] as a means to get elected and having this fight is a means of either saying he’s getting the wall or saying he tried. 2/

The media in this country has a really bad history of collapsing political maneuvering and actual reality. In this case, Trump understood that history and created a situation where he took something that wasn’t real and trusted that the media would then make it real. 3/

Throughout his first two years, Trump had control of the government. If the wall was a feasible thing, if anyone actually wanted it besides his rabid base, the Republican government would have passed it. This is a posturing, a battle he picked with an incoming Dem house. 4/

Trump is only able to stay in this fight for 3 reasons: 1. the media automatically reports political maneuvering as fact. 2. We have swallowed the lie of “security” in a post-9/11 world. 3. The GOP are still examining Trump’s base and determining whether they need them. 5/

For historical context, it’s important to remember that the largest attack on American soil in modern history (September 11th) happened during a Republican administration that was given due warning and did nothing. But what they did was grasp the narrative and rhetoric… 6/

The Republican Party is TERRIBLE at national security. They have no nuance. They only bomb things and overthrow governments that are eventually replaced by despots. They ruin up huge hypocritical debts. It happens over and over and over again. That’s the GOP’s legacy. 7/

Let’s talk about ACTUAL SECURITY. Right now, this shutdown is lowering America’s status in the world. It’s making us a laughingstock and is ensuring that other countries won’t partner with us. Trump does this daily, of course, and the GOP are standing idly by. 8/

Trump and the GOP sit there and talk about Democrats not being for security while shutting down the government and stripping funding from Homeland Security and other security efforts. NOT TO MENTION the security of safe food, safe flights, safe everything. 9/

Oh. Here’s another thing. I’ve been talking to people working in federal prisons. Get this. They’re working skeleton crews. The situation is getting very dangerous and very unstable. Guess who’s in some of these prisons?


That’s right. The places where the ACTUAL TERRORISTS ARE KEPT are being starved for funding and are thus becoming unstable and more dangerous. That’s not being talked about because REAL SECURITY isn’t RHETORICAL SECURITY. The media loves RHETORICAL, not ACTUAL. 11/

So. Because Trump and the GOP will act in blatant bad faith, we’re in a situation where the media and pundits are asking the party that acts in good faith to simply give them what they want, which doesn’t exist, won’t exist, shouldn’t exist. That’s what’s happening. 12/

Because horserace/status quo media want everything to be about the rhetorical process instead of the actual reality, we have a situation that has been completely drained of meaning and has no sensible way to proceed. But there’s something even worse than that… 13/

Because segments of the media refuse to learn from their mistakes of 2016 and earlier, they’re actually giving incentive for Trump and other politicians to create destabilizing crises in the future. If you do it, and if you lie, you’ll get a narrative that helps your cause. 14/

So, not only do we have a snake eating its tail, but we have a snake eating its tail that’s giving birth to more tail-eating snakes. There’s no way for this situation, as reported, as covered, as presented, to lead to a good solution. Not as long as the mistake continues. 15/

This is the result of decades, no, generations of bad faith and bad actions. Not to mention incompetency of history and context. It has to end, because if it doesn’t we’re going to end up in a nightmarish hellscape where meaning’s not just broken, it’s lost forever. 16/16

Off the Record

A chorus of local news reporters reading, word-for-word, from the same Sinclair script to attack the media and defend the President. This is not what an independent media looks like.

— Forever Logical 🖖 (@ForeverLogical) January 10, 2019

Then and now politicians had been and are trying to suppress information by telling it in “off the record” meetings to journalists. Nice try, but good journalists won’t get caught in the “off the record” trap.

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