Ty Cobb and Alex Schwazer: victims of fake news

Ty Cobbs in action, sliding in third base

2 Athletes, 2 very different stories Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb was a legendary baseball player active between 1905 and 1928. He still holds some MLB records, including best batting average. But his reputation has been ruined by fabricated stories, mostly about his purported racism. Alex Schwazer is an Italian race walker, 2008 Olympic Champion, who was disqualified twice for doping offences: at first, in 2012, because he was cheating; eventually, in 2016, because he wasn’t. A new man, deeply changed, he was dead serious in his quest to fight doping. Did someone decide he was an inconvenience for a world of Athletics that got used to turn a blind eye on…

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Syria, Sarin & Red Pills

A surprisingly widespread reaction to anti-Assad propaganda (UPDATED) As you probably already know, yesterday tens of people have been killed in Idlib, Syria, seemingly as a consequence of chemical weapons being released in the air. Horrible images of civilians and children, gasping for air or already dead, have been disseminated around the mediasphere. According to reports, the Syrian Army attacked the rebel-controlled territory using Sarin gas. The source: a so-called Observatory for Human Rights, a well-known propaganda operation based in London, part of an international concerted effort to remove the Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, favoring the “rebels” (essentially ISIS, Al-Qaeda spin-offs and their allies) that are at war with the…

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On Trump, crowd counting & lies. Look what I found!

How big was the crowd at Trump’s Inauguration? Bear with me. I wasted waaay too much time on this study. But the results are significant.   This is a teachable moment. What happens when literally everybody is lying, and the matter is quite difficult to verify to begin with? Ideally, you’d expect people to notice and demand better standards from politicians and journalists, but no. The two sides just choose the narrative they like, then run with it. Eventually the public moves on. But I’m not. I waited a few days to see if someone came up with a decent article on the subject, in vain. See, the topic itself isn’t…

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The US Media Circus & Trump, as seen from abroad

People attending Trump's Presidential Inauguration

Since I kept a close eye on the US Presidential Election, especially for an Italian, but I didn’t report of the events unfolding from the actual election itself on November 9 to yesterday’s Presidential Inauguration, many fellow foreigners may now ask: what happened during this transition? The short answer is “not much”.     The Trump team was busy putting together a cabinet that seems quite solid and trying to keep the promise of bringing a new approach to politics. Case in point, Trump nominated Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and this move was widely criticized because Pruitt himself previously sued the EPA (alongside many other…

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Believing your lyin’ eyes in the Age Of The Image

similaritier between fiction (Reservoir Dogs scene) and reality (Istanbul terror attack)

PARENTAL ADVISORY: some photos contained in this post may be disturbing for children.   In my last post I highlighted how easy it is to fall in love with a narrative, especially if it paints someone we don’t like as the culprit and/or it gives us the impression of being smarter than others. But in today’s media landscape, when you are bombarded with messages, photos and videos selectively perfected to capture your attention, where fashion models are routinely photoshopped and people merrily tweet and send unverifiable videos from war zones, a new question arises. Can you even trust your own eyes? Truth is elusive. The world is full of deception. Random…

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Oddities in the Berlin terror attack & a temptation to read more into it

Contrasts   Nowadays even wars are fought through the power of images. ISIS edits a glossy magazine where appallingly cruel actions get a polished professional presentation worthy of the National Geographic. Terrorists are recruited through internet forums, where propaganda movies are the basic staple of an exciting diet of strong imagery for the bloodlusty aspiring jihadist: think of the executions, where the hostages have been worn down through endless dry runs, so that they pose no resistance and appear completely subjugated to their murderers. Attacking Christmas is a natural choice for its symbolic value. Attacking a Christmas Market is even more incisive, because the shock effect is channeled through the…

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Behold: a hoax buster in total anti-Trump meltdown

How to ruin your reputation. Paolo Attivissimo is a tech journalist and a semi-celebrity; he’s by far the most prominent debunker in the Italian language web. His work to dispel myths and conspiracy theories is well known and appreciated (including by yours truly): among other things, he and his collaborators created websites dedicated to debunking  9/11 conspiracy theories, or the Moonlanding hoaxes (in Italian). Well, he just became unhinged. A few days ago, he published an embarrassing, painful-to-read article against Donald Trump. Here it is (in Italian): FAQ: perché ce l’ho con Trump presidente? Perché sono un debunker (FAQ: why am I mad at President Trump? Because I’m a debunker). Its’ just pathetic: he sounds…

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It’s all Putin’s fault! (Shameless)

What can you say? It’s ludicrous. Problem is, all those journalists are serious, and lots of people still listen to them.   Hillary Clinton is ranting about a “vast right-wing conspiracy” since 1998. It’s one of her recurring circus acts. I’d say now it’s a good time: it would be advisable to finally let her go. She’s an ex. And yet, here she was, again on TV, railing against those damn fake news that caused Trump’s victory. Obviously the mainstream media were indignant and eager to follow her advice, calling for a new form of censorship-under-a-different-name, against all those unauthorized voices spreading lies all over the internet. Of course the same mainstream media…

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Diversity, fake news and false empathy

University of Michigan map of the USA highlighting how in most of the counties Trump won

Diversity theater If you want to understand what it means to live in a bubble, consider this episode: a few days ago Vice President Elect Mike Pence fancied to spend a little time relaxing with his family and they went to a theater; to a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, no less. He got booed by people in the audience, then after the show the entire cast proceeded to scold him, with a sort of partisan official statement, under the guise of asking for an adequate protection for every citizen (and the planet!) in the name of diversity. In other words, you are racists, enemies of all that is good, by…

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From abortion to chemtrails, it’s only a small step

OK, let’s complain about idiotic, fake news memes making the rounds on social networks. I bet you too got a good excuse to lose your temper when you faced a scenario like the following one. An excited/indignant friend sharing on Facebook the n-th conspiracy theory/sensational fishy news bite/”anti-establishment” petition. Showing no self-awareness whatsoever. Spewing answers without ever seriously asking questions. Like saying that next week Mars will appear in the sky as big as the Moon, or that Facebook is becoming a pay service, or that you should rail against the Parliament for a new outrageous law that turns out to be imaginary, drafted by a non-existent Representative. That we…

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