DZSURDZSA: The solution to fake news lies with the private sector not the federal “truth police”
The solution to fake news isn’t a government appointed “truth committee”. Even the Department of Industry agrees.
In a 2018 memo, the department warned against federal interference in the media, ahead of the announcement that the Liberal government plans to monitor online media for election meddling.
The government’s desire to spend $7 million to monitor for online “fake news” is unjustifiable when the private sector is already doing a good job claims the department.
“In light of concerns with ‘fake news’, social media companies e.g. Twitter and Facebook are already developing and implementing solutions,” reads the memo.
There are several fact-checking platforms already available to people free of charge to test a story or a website’s credibility.
Despite past flaws and scandals, Facebook has employed third-party fact checkers and sophisticated software to test the credibility of news shared on the platform.
Google has also announced that it is working on a separate search engine entirely for this purpose. The Google News Initiative launched a beta tool that will aggregate all fact-checking done by others online onto one platform.
The so-called “Critical Election Incident Public Protocol” is an entirely unnecessary waste of taxpayer money that sets a dangerous precedent for media censorship.
The government should not be in the business of determining what is “reliable” and endowing media companies of its own choice with lavish donations and bailouts.
“Policies that constrain the flow of data, free speech, consumer choice or the rights of businesses to innovate online would impede economic potential,” claimed the Department of Industry memo.
Over the past few years, Canada’s World Press Freedom Ranking has suffered because of government interference. In 2018 Canada ranked 18th on the index. Before the election of Justin Trudeau, Canada was ranked 8th.
Some of the reasons why Canada ranks so low is because of government interference with journalism. One of the cases mentioned by the index was the ruling against VICE media journalist Ben Makuch, who was ordered by the RCMP to hand over his confidential source.
The RCMP is under the direct oversight of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale who conveniently is also one of the members overseeing the election fact-checking department.
If Minister Goodale is willing to bully journalists to hand over confidential sources, what makes us think that he will fairly judicate over “fake news”.
So tell me again, why does the federal government seek to get involved in the fact-checking business?
Could it possibly be because the Liberal government is on a power trip intent on controlling the dialogue around the 2019 federal election?
Maybe it’s because they seek to consolidate national media under one umbrella beholden to the Liberal party?
Or perhaps, they hope to squash all criticism of the disastrous policies that have wreaked havoc on Canada’s economy and security?
No, of course not. Our government would never do that to us…
Bruce Arthur, dubbed Sportswriter of the Year in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of top 100 people to follow on Twitter, may sound like your average sports columnist, but there’s much more to the man than hot takes and sports. He also has a passion for hurling abuse at strong conservative women. Specifically, Candice Malcolm.
Malcolm is the founder of True North, an independent media outlet in Canada. She tweeted out a reply to Justin Ling, a man who describes himself as a “consulting killjoy,” “perpetually unemployed” and “painstakingly uninteresting.”
Ling had said in a Hill Times article that True North, the independent news outlet founded by Malcolm, was a “tiny start-up” from “worrying ends of the spectrum.”
Malcolm stood up for herself and her outlet:
And this is when Bruce Arthur showed exactly why he was voted by SI as one of the top 100 people to follow on Twitter, saying to Malcolm: “You’re garbage.”
At first, I was confused by this nasty response. But then I looked into who this guy really is. It turns out he’s the kind of guy who would imply that if you watch conservative news programs like former hockey legend Bobby Orr does, then you might be a “white supremacist.”
Slandering people and blithely calling a woman “garbage”? I think Trudeau should reconsider all of that media bailout money he’s giving the Toronto Star and Arthur.
According to today’s woke standards, Arthur—a mediocre white male—should be cancelled for typing such a reply to a female journalist. It’s the kind of thing that is condemned as “hate”—rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity. Will that happen in this case? Of course not. You see, Malcolm is conservative and Arthur is liberal. The standards are never applied equally.
Candice Malcolm has stood up for Canadians, our freedom of speech, our servicemen and servicewomen, tackled terrorism, broken stories others only wish they could have, and has taken the Trudeau government to court for and won on behalf of freedom of the press. For a sports columnist to state that Malcolm, an obvious pillar of Canadian media is “garbage” is completely inaccurate and out of touch.
Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. That freedom should not be limited or suppressed. Arthur has the right to hurl insults at conservative women all day long if he so chooses. But it does speak to his lack of character. How we use our language is a choice we make, and this choice was, quite frankly, garbage.
Bruce, if you want to save your credibility, take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the speck you see in someone else’s. Or, just stick to the sports highlights and leave the real work to Candice Malcolm and True North.
I guarantee that Malcolm would still defend your ability to speak freely and call her names. That’s the kind of professional she is.
“The world is going to hell.” Every day, in every news outlet, we are bombarded with this notion. Climate change irrevocability, civil strife, increasing racism, terrorism, homophobia, and poverty. The west is in a navel-gazing spiral of negativity and self-hatred. We verbally flagellate ourselves with condemnation of our own wealth, of our carbon footprint, of our inability to fix all the problems instantly, effectively, and permanently. We are stuck in a loop of negative self-critique that any therapist would diagnose as suicidal, and in fact, suicide rates are rising. But it’s time we looked at some facts and started telling ourselves a new story. As it turns out, we don’t suck.
One of the biggest critiques of the west is that there is rising inequality, that the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer. However, that’s not actually true. It’s a lovely narrative for those who favour wealth redistribution because the perception of injustice spurs people on to figure out how to rectify that. The only problem is that it’s untrue. Of course, there are problems, there always are, but they’re not nearly so bad as we are led to believe by popular media representations, and they’re getting better.
A recent article in The Economist shows just how off our thinking has been with regard to wealth inequity. New research confirms that the basis for this belief in increasing financial disparity is inaccurate. The claims of inequity were founded on four presumed truths. These are that the top 1% of earners have soared high above the rest of us in wealth accumulation, that household incomes have languished, that worker exploitation has hurt labour while lining the pockets of wealth capitalists and that the accumulation of assets the wealthy hold have been skyrocketing in value.
However, “…some economists have re-crunched the numbers and concluded that the income share of the top 1% in America may have been little changed since as long ago as 1960.” Unaccounted for in the analysis of wealth inequity were the changes with regard to Medicaid expansion, pension dividends that go to middle-earners, the vast underestimation of “inflation adjusted median income growth in America from 1979-2014.”
While we could always do better, the fact is, we could do much worse. It’s hard for us to believe that we are not the worst people in the worst time frame in the entirety of human history, but as we berate ourselves for being so terrible, we should take a moment to note that poverty is in drastic decline worldwide.
In a Q&A on his YouTube channel, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson notes that: “It is by no means self-evident that things are getting worse… In the last 15 years, the millennium goal for the UN was to have world poverty, like absolute poverty, that’s less than $1.50 [down] by 50% within 15 years, and that was actually reached ahead of schedule. We’ve lifted hundreds of millions of people into the middle class in the last 30 years. There is increasing inequality in the west because the working class has taken the brunt of that redistribution to third world countries. But really there’s no starvation in the world anymore, except really for reasons of misdistribution and political purpose.
“People are becoming richer and more educated all the time. And we are waking up to our planetary responsibilities, and once people stop starving to death, and having to burn dirt and eat substandard food that they’ve scraped out of the ground they do start to turn their attention to things that are more aesthetic. … I don’t see an alternative [to capitalism] that has manifested itself that doesn’t have far more negative consequences. … The most successful societies by virtually any metric are the capitalist societies.”
Shocking, I know, but it’s true. The west and western culture is not the worst thing ever to happen to the world and humanity. We don’t have to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth or stop having babies just to save everyone from our wretched, horrid, greedy, trolling selves. We have actually been helping. Poverty is in decline, and along with it, our general sense of self-respect.
It’s time to tell ourselves a different story, one that involves trying our hardest to make things better for all people, because that’s what’s really going on. People are getting tired of this same, sad story. David Byrne recently launched Reasons to Be Cheerful as an antidote to all the bad news. It collects stories about all the legit good things happening in the world, and those that reflect innovation, compassion, and cooperation between people and cultures.
A narrative that gives us an inkling into our successes, not just our failures, would help us to push forward more than the hopeless one we are constantly being fed. One of our biggest issues is that, as things improve both in the west and worldwide, we raze the definition of success and replace it with an even higher measure.
We have lived up to so many of our goals, yet every time we attain one, we move the goal further on. It’s like we’re climbing a ladder and with every rung, we look up at the next one and see how much further away it is than the one we just climbed. This is not a call to let ourselves off the hook, we know how much work there is to do, we hear about it from every source every day. But the progress of democratic capitalism, with a healthy amount of checks on the power of the free market, is an effective tool for the betterment of us all. Let’s stop hating ourselves—what we’re doing is actually working.
It was inevitable.
A big story about hockey.
A horrifically bad take by Nora Loreto.
Loreto is the notorious activist best known for one of the most-ratioed tweets of all time in Canada following the Humboldt Broncos tragic crash:
“I’m trying to not get cynical about what is a totally devastating tragedy but the maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are, of course, playing a significant role.”
Now, Loreto is back with yet another garbage take in the wake of the Don Cherry situation:
“Question: why is Hockey Culture the front line of Canada’s culture wars?
It’s because hockey is the most intense location where we form the white supremacy and misogyny on which Canada’s entire system is built and maintained.”
At this point, it’s almost like Loreto is trying to be a caricature of far-left sentiment, which ironically is quite effective at gaining attention (as shown by the fact that I’m writing about it here).
Yet, it’s instructive to note that there is a certain (small) small segment of the country that actually believes that stuff.
They actually think hockey is about “white supremacy” and “misogyny.”
Of course, believing that requires somehow ignoring the fact that hockey often brings people of different backgrounds together to wear the same uniform, push towards the same goal, and feel a common identity, which is among the best ways to reduce racism and promote understanding.
And considering that women’s hockey is an incredibly popular and growing sport in Canada and that Canadians have been repeatedly brought together by cheering on our Canadian Women’s Olympic team, it takes a truly stunning level of ignorance to believe that hockey is about “misogyny.”
But ignorance is what the far-left is all about, and they seem to enjoy trying to tear down everything that Canadians like while promoting everything that isn’t Canadian.
For example, the far-left has endless bad things to say about Canada’s “values,” yet rarely—if ever—criticizes Communist China or any of the countries that actually commit horrific human rights abuses. Instead, they seek to divide our nation, turn Canadians against each other, denigrate our traditions, and wipe away our history.
Loreto has the right to her opinions (even if in my opinion they are total trash), and people have the right to disagree with her. That said, the vast silent majority of Canadians will need to start speaking out more and more, in order to stop the small (but loud) far-left from further influencing the direction of our nation with their unhinged insanity.
In No Nut November, the question “To fap or not to fap?” has become fraught with legal danger. This whimsical internet challenge has grown in popularity over the years alongside the scientific battle over whether or not pornography can become addictive.
By mid-November, those would-be abstainers who don’t take the challenge seriously likely already failed to remain the “masters of their domain” but the academic war will continue long after the end of the month.
Neuroscientist and sexual psychophysiologist Dr. Nicole Prause is currently facing two defamation lawsuits filed in US courts as a result of this battle. On Twitter, Prause has declared herself to be the victim of multiple SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) after years of ongoing harassment. Prause has also claimed that her anti-porn adversaries have stalked her, threatened to rape her, and engaged in general misogyny including falsely accusing her of being paid by the porn industry.
The defamation suits accuse Prause of lying about being stalked, threatened, or harassed by them in any way. The statements of claim say that these are false accusations by Prause and that her public accusations are the only actual harassment taking place. In affidavits attached to the lawsuits, ten different people, including four women, claim to be personal victims of Dr. Prause.
This is not just a Twitter war.
Most people think anti-porn activists to be radical feminists like Catharine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who sought to censor pornography as a civil rights violation and form of human trafficking.
In a strange twist of events, over the last decade, it has been a growing number of young men who have turned against the near limitless fap machine of internet pornography. This quickly increasing demographic has flooded websites like NoFap.com, seeking help for what they have self-described as an addiction to porn.
For some experts, like Prause, the claim that people can become addicted to porn is not only scientifically unsound but, she says, potentially dangerous. Those who oppose porn are often painted as religious science deniers, causing damage to people by morally shaming natural human sexuality. But other experts disagree.
The question of whether or not excessive pornography use can lead to addiction, actually causing physical changes to the brain, has yet to be decided. In the meantime, thousands of mostly young men seeking help online are being demonized as misogynistic for identifying pornography as a cause of their distress.
The complaints from these men include, but are not limited to, erectile dysfunction in the presence of a real-life partner, difficulty achieving orgasm during intercourse, social anxiety and escalation in their viewing habits which causes them to seek out more and more extreme forms of pornography in order to maintain their physical and psychological arousal.
The variety of pornography available online certainly ranges into extremely concerning areas, like rectal prolapse, and most people clicking from one video to the next are bound to quickly come across something this shocking.
In an email exchange with The Post Millennial, Dr. Prause commented “We know it is a low-desire behaviour, people do not actually engage in rosebudding play very much at all. I wonder to what extent some videos on “porn” websites really are just clickbait not expecting a sexual response. That is, all the pornographers want is clicks. It’s how they make money. If you see ‘anus actually falls out’ I would be really horrified…and really curious.”
For those who are struggling with a pornography consumption habit they feel has taken over their enjoyment of life, their curiosity has led many of them to believe they have an addiction.
But, how did this academic dispute escalate into civil lawsuits? It depends on who you ask.
The battle between Nicole Prause and her adversaries seems to have kicked off in March 2013 when an article by Dr. David Ley, titled “Your Brain On Porn: It’s Not Addictive,” was published in Psychology Today promoting a Prause study that had not yet been published. After a critical blog response was published, both posts were removed pending the publication of the research. The author of the response blog, Gary Wilson, also happened to be the owner of a website called “Your Brain On Porn” which was mentioned by name in the original article.
Wilson has chronicled the six-year dispute on his website and, when put on a timeline, which includes Prause’s complaints to licensing boards and attempts to have people fired for sexual harassment or academic fraud, most of the events appear to be initiated by Prause herself.
For example, on January 29, 2019, Prause attempted to take trademark ownership of the website name and domain “Your Brain On Porn.” Gary Wilson, who has regularly been accused of stalking Prause, took this move as another attack upon his work.
When asked about this event, Wilson told The Post Millennial that he received an anonymous tip that Prause had filed an application for his domain, which he then opposed. Without this tip, he may have lost his website and body of research. Prause finally withdrew her application on October 18, 2019.
Meanwhile, in April 2019 a website called “Real Your Brain On Porn” and a matching Twitter account were created which were ultimately found to be connected to Nicole Prause, though registered under the name of someone else. Prause provided The Post Millennial with the final report from the intellectual property investigation by WIPO and confirmed that this is one of the actions against her which Prause is calling a “SLAPP suit.”
Prause explained her motivation to acquire Wilson’s website as an effort to eliminate what she believes are defamatory accusations about her and which she considers to be evidence of a cyber-stalking behaviour. The website currently hosts a lengthy compilation of events and documentation in which Wilson presents Prause as the harasser.
The first defamation suit was filed against Dr. Prause and her business, Liberos LLC, in May 2019 but it was not Gary Wilson who took this legal action. It was filed by neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Hilton Jr after Prause contacted the university where he teaches as an adjunct professor and made a complaint alleging, among other things, that Hilton had engaged in sexual harassment.
Hilton’s own research on behavioural addiction stands in stark contrast to Prause’s conclusions and they have frequently clashed over the pros and cons of pornography use. Hilton was one of the first to criticize Prause’s EEG study released in 2013.
In his lawsuit, Hilton vehemently denies having harassed Prause and claims that her accusations were designed to cause maximum damage to his reputation. Prause’s motion to dismiss appears to admit to the contents of the emails she sent but claims freedom of speech and “the right to petition” as her defence.
Hilton’s lawyer, Dan Packard, told The Post Millennial that “no person can falsely accuse an academic rival of sexual harassment in a deliberate attempt to silence that rival and then successfully hide behind the First Amendment. ‘Free speech’ can never be used as a sword to silence academic discussion and debate.”
An article published in Reason heavily questions the way Prause framed her claims of sexual harassment. Interviewed for that article, “UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment specialist, questions Prause’s ‘novel and pretty dangerous’ definition of sexual harassment.” In the context of her complaint, it reads as if all criticism of her scientific work has been reconstructed as an attack on her as “a female scientist.”
But the second lawsuit moves well beyond an academic dispute.
The founder of NoFap.com, Alexander Rhodes, states in his lawsuit that he was caught in the crosshairs after he was featured in a July 6, 2016, New York Times article called “Internet Porn Nearly Ruined His Life. Now He Wants To Help.” Two days after publication, Prause and a colleague, Dr. David Ley, appear to ridicule Rhodes on Twitter and, in a now-deleted tweet, Prause described Rhodes as a “neckbeard.”
Rhodes’ statement of claim says the harassment escalated two years after this event when he alleges Prause began publicly accusing him of stalking and threatening her – an allegation which he denies. In an affidavit Rhodes states “I would never willingly subject myself to unnecessary communication with Dr. Prause.”
Prause has also publicly alleged that she filed FBI complaints against both Rhodes and Gary Wilson but in both cases, an FOI filed by the accused failed to produce any evidence of the reports. On the other hand, Wilson has posted evidence on his website that he filed a complaint against Prause after speaking with an FBI agent in December 2018.
The legal system is still struggling to determine where free speech crosses the line into actionable defamation in online disputes. The question of who “started it” can lead to an endless rabbit hole in which all involved are accused of “sock puppetry” (creating multiple fake usernames) and online mobbing. Most certainly, things have gone too far when employers are being contacted, lawsuits are being filed in court, and it starts to involve the FBI.
Dr. Prause recently tweeted that she reported a fundraiser aimed at helping Rhodes raise money for his legal bills. Prause alleges, despite the existence of the lawsuit, that this fundraiser is fraudulent.
While Rhodes’ personal Twitter account has been set to private, the NoFap account tweeted their astonishment over these events saying “This is like the alcohol industry trying to take down Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Rhodes’ lawyer Andrew Stebbins provided The Post Millennial with the following statement:
“Mr. Rhodes is and always has been an eager and willing participant in the provocative debate surrounding pornography addiction, and is openly receptive of honest and fair criticism of his work, views, and opinions. He will not, however, tolerate malicious personal attacks from those who seek to discredit, disparage and otherwise injure him through false statements designed to assassinate his character and reputation. This case is brought solely in response, and properly limited in scope, to such attacks.”
In a recent Vice article, Prause is quoted saying “”Alexander Rhodes and NoFap’s lawsuit has no merit nor do his libelous and unfounded assertions regarding me, my character, or my business,” adding that Rhodes is “entitled to his opinions, however he is not entitled to spread complete falsehoods about me to profit himself and silence speech.”
The author of the same Vice article then goes on to call NoFap’s principles “slippery,” and attempts to link Rhodes to white supremacists by citing an April 2016 interview with Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, despite that group being founded many months later. Ironically, McInnes was a co-founder of Vice and thus has a much stronger connection to their own publication than to Alexander Rhodes or NoFap.
And, in a way, that leads us back to the original question: To fap or not to fap?
For the thousands of people, both men and women, who are asking themselves that very question, it is doubtful that mockery and insults from pornography supportive researchers will stop them from visiting the websites, like NoFap and Your Brain On Porn, who take their concerns more seriously.
The academic battle over whether or not their problem is technically an addiction is less important to them then getting help to change a habit they feel is destroying their lives.