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Fake news in everyday life: "Rarely is everything fictitious"


              Donald Trump has catapulted the term "fake news" into our vocabulary. The US President has a very simple definition for it: he means newspapers like the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" or TV stations like CNN – all media that report badly and critically about him. Philosopher Philipp Hübl sees it differently. The author of the books "Bullshit Resistance" and "The Excited Society" defines "fake news" as fake or fake news with the intention of deceiving other people. In an interview with n-tv.de, he also explains why mistakes in thinking lead us to spread fake news, how we can expose lies and why he considers fake news laws to be dangerous. N-tv.de: Every false report is fake news ? Philipp Hübl: The false report would be too broad because even the very best newsrooms make mistakes. The simple translation of fake news is: fake or fake news. There must be an intention or a resolution. I would go even further: someone deliberately produces the wrong message to deceive people, or at least accepts it with approval. There are different types of liars? Philipp Hübl was Junior Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Stuttgart from 2012 to 2018. (Photo: Juliane Marie Schreiber) The one who deliberately does it to deceive is the liar. The one who approves is the bullshitter. The expression comes from the philosopher Harry Frankfurt. He says: There are people who don't care about the truth. A lot of fake news is of this nature, so the accusation that the media are spreading fake news would be a contradiction in terms? Reputable media have an interest in what they say being true. Those who spread fake news typically follow an ideology or political agenda. They don't just want their agenda to be known, they want it to be supported. If they don't find the right news for this, they try to produce their own, which sounds like US President Donald Trump. Is it the biggest distributor of fake news? No, because fake news must look like a message. Trump is the prototype of a bullshitter who says: I don't care about the truth. There's a nice anecdote from Trump. He once said he talked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau said Canada had no trade deficit with the United States. Trump has contradicted this. Later he boasted that he didn't even know if that was true. He didn't care, he just wanted to slap Trudeau in front of the bib. That's the Bullshitter's stance: I just say it to see what happens. * Data protection Is this boast Trump shows a characteristic of the bullshitter? Yes, it's a typical phenomenon. Even before Trump's election, Harry Frankfurt wrote that many people pretend that they had no idea in everyday life. Sometimes just to be able to have a say or because you are constantly asked about things you have no idea about. But as a bullshitter you can also have an agenda to sell something. A car dealer may tell you all the great things about a car. Maybe some things are right, but it's about selling. The gossip press is another example where everything is written, most of the lies or most of Trump's bullshit are relatively easy to disprove. His most loyal followers still stick to him. It stands to reason that his voters will stick to him out of loyalty. The so-called loyalty lies have now also been empirically proven. This is not only done by Republicans, but also by Democrats, leftists, right-hand cyclists, motorists, meat eaters and vegans. DISPLAY Bullshit Resistance * Data Protection A blatant example was the photos of the inauguration ceremony. When Barack Obama took office, about a million people were in the forecourt of the Capitol in Washington, with Trump it was a maximum of half. Large white areas can be seen in pictures. If you ask the voters of the Democrats and the Republicans "Which photo is from which inauguration?", A large part of the Republicans says: The full one must be Trump. Afterwards, the investigators said that this is Obama and asked which picture generally more people you can see. Republican voters still said ten percent: in the picture of Trump. Although there was really no one to be seen on large areas. It was so obvious that every little child would have recognized it. Nevertheless, they said no, but then it doesn't matter how much effort the media make to work correctly and precisely. Some people will still not believe a message or think a mistake is intentional, so if I assume from the outset that media are the bad guys, I will overemphasize the few mistakes and simply forget the many correct messages. You can tell that from when people call the press of lies: not with the misprints in the football results, but with morally and politically very sensitive issues. It's almost always about refugees, migration, strangeness and progressive values. Then it is assumed that a newsroom has a certain political or moral perspective, let's say you want to expose fake news. What are the signs? It is rarely the case that everything is fictitious. Lies and deceptions work best when there is a true core and one part is left out, slightly changed or added. If you can't find a source at all, everyone quickly realizes: Okay, it's made up. It works better if – that's what I say now – it means that, near Stuttgart, hundreds of refugees beat up a group of pensioners and a police report about a fight was found – only with other numbers and other parties but still against fake news laws. A law would be far too dangerous. The truth must be found out between people. In philosophy one would say: intersubjective. There are facts that can be found out. That should not be put in the hands of a state institution, a Ministry of Truth exaggeratedly said. We have seen in history that this is misused. All great authoritarian rulers say: We preach the truth, so what options then remain to distinguish truth from lies? For example, there are now browser extensions or programs that recognize fake news quite well. They mark suspicious websites. Then you still have to check as a person whether it's true. A small marker in the Facebook or Twitter news feed also helps, but this only helps those who really want to expose fake news. With the loyalty lies that you mentioned, such aids are useless. What can we do there? Train media literacy. You could also say: clear thinking, critical thinking, scientific thinking. I jokingly call it "bullshit resistance": bullshit is nonsense of all kinds. Resistance is the ability to resist it. That should be a subject at schools, but also at universities. You just know a lot more today about short circuits, prejudices and misconceptions to which we are all at risk. Even those who are well trained in it because we can no longer see where many messages we see every day come from. ADVERTISEMENT Excited society: How emotions shape our morals and strengthen polarization * Data protection In philosophy studies, for example, you are trained to think first: What could speak against this statement? Usually we always look for confirmation of our belief. But you can adjust yourself internally so that you say: First I look at what speaks against it. You could say: don't rely on your gut feeling! That sounds tedious and tedious, but there is no way around it. This lesson would have made sense 30 years ago, but now it's all the more important. Christian Herrmann spoke to Philipp Hübl

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