Our writers’ recommendations for the best debunking, fact checking and media criticism you shouldn't miss this week.
Al, Senior Editor - Tom Scott is acknowledged as master of the gently narrated, informative YouTube short. A video published this week, The Hidden Rules of Conversation, gives possibly the best short explanation I have seen of one of the most useful philosophical concepts in understanding how communication of all kinds, and misinformation in particular, works. It's five minutes on the key ideas of HP Grice: the philosopher of language who truly understood that communication happens between people, and that what is not said is often as important as what is.
Watch it on Youtube here.
Edie, Contributing Editor - Some podcasts take a while to get going but You’re Wrong About has been consistently great from its first episode, about the Satanic Panic, when hundreds of day-care workers and babysitters were subject to baseless and often bizarre accusations of satanic ritual abuse. You can read my interview with host Sarah Marshall about QAnon and the recurrence of satanic conspiracy theories here.
Listen at stitcher.com
Joe, Senior Researcher - At a time when most appear to be playing catch-up anticipating onto what our Coronavirus anxieties will be projected next, Geoff Shullenberger examines our history of fear around ‘invisible enemies’ - from demons and germs to technology - and how the outlandish fear of 5G may, in fact, be a more natural reaction than first seems.
Read it in Real Life Magazine here.
Kristina, Disinformation Researcher - Have you noticed any of your social media friends sharing a letter supposedly written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in quarantine? It seems kind of too good to be true, so of course it is.
You can read the full breakdown here.
Nick, Contributing Editor - According to a rumor circulating on social media, Microsoft owns patent number ‘666’ which has been developed to insert microchips into people and mine their activity ‘for cryptocurrency purposes,’ adding to a previous theory that the mark of the beast was upon us and that Bill Gates himself was the antichrist. Disappointing as it is, we had to concede that this one wasn't true.
Snopes did a great job of breaking it down here.