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Misinformation, Memetics and Electoral Fallout

Posted by on November 12, 2016.

This is not the place to share my views on the presidential election, or  on the President-elect. However, as someone with an ongoing interest in hoaxes and misinformation, I feel bound to point something out. (That’s an interest in pointing them out, not in promoting them!)

There is a meme that claims that Donald Trump said that if he ever ran, it would be as a Republican because ‘They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country.’ I’ve seen the meme many times in the last year or so, but I notice that it’s made a comeback since the election.

It may or may not be his opinion: I’m not even going to try to guess. But it doesn’t seem to be anything that he said, at any rate back in the ’90s. In fact, an article on Snopes suggests that his views back then were fairly moderate compared to some of his recent statements.  Are those views are more representative of what he really thinks than are his statements during or after the election campaign? I’m not going to speculate on that, either.

Actually, I was thinking of writing an article a few years ago, regarding misinformation concerning the two previous elections that was being spread at the time. I didn’t get around to it because that stuff didn’t have anything like the same traction. If I hadn’t been in the security business with a particular interest in psychosocial issues, I probably wouldn’t have taken much notice.

Mind you, I’ve only just got round to this one, too. But then I don’t work full time and don’t have time to write about everything that interests me.

Be that as it may… Memes and social media are not the best source of reliable topical information. Nor are newscasters, come to think of it. And that’s as true of Brexit as it is of the American election. As I said recently in a somewhat different context:

A lot of people pass on something they read without checking facts, because what they read agreed with their own views and expectations.

It’s not as though there hasn’t been plenty of electioneering footage on which to (help) base an opinion. (It’s a bit late for a voting decision now.) You can’t, of course, assume that a politician means what he or she says. But you can at least confirm what it actually was that they said.

David Harley


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One thought on “Misinformation, Memetics and Electoral Fallout

  1. Clairvaux on said:

    I don’t know about Trump, but there is a French socialist politician who said as much :

    “5% to 6% of people are smart. My job is to get the vote of the dumb ones.” These were not surreptitiously recorded private ramblings, like some “pussy” comments of recent fame. He said that before an assembly of students.

    His name is Georges Frêche, he died in 2010 the king of the city and region of Montpellier.

    He also put up a statue of Lenin in his city. Paid with other people’s money, of course, as suits a proper socialist.

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