Stories About Fibs and Fake News, and 70+ Other Types of Deceit

Lies 24/7. It's hard to keep up with the unending tsunami of falsehoods that greets us each and every day. And, that's just the lies coming from our family and friends. The bigger lies aimed at our communities often make the local and national news, usually under the guise of fact and truth. Without a full-time staff of hundreds of investigative journalists and "lientists" it's impossible for us to catalog every one of these newsworthy alternative facts. However, here we discuss our favorite stories about lying, fake news and "evidence-free" facts.

We’re Human. Therefore We Lie

We’re Human. Therefore We Lie

posted in: Fib News | 0

A recent feature article in National Geographic explores the science behind our very human lies. Author and National Geographic contributor Yudhijit Bhattacharjee delves into why and how we lie, and offers us some fascinating anecdotes about some highly colorful liars: the art forger, the plagiarist researcher, secret agent and the impersonator.

Bhattacharjee’s meta-analysis of other past psychological studies into lying quite rightly tells us that while we all lie, not all lies are of equal value or consequence; we lie for different reasons.

Research by Tim Levine, Bruno Verschuere, and other psychologists, shows that around 36 percent of our lies are to protect ourselves, while another 44 percent are to promote ourselves. A further 13 percent of our lies are designed to impact others — for good or bad, with the remainder defying classification. Perhaps not surprisingly, though demoralizing nonetheless, I read that “children learn to lie between ages two and five, and lie the most when they are testing their independence”.

Tellingly Bhattacharjee reminds us:

That human beings should universally possess a talent for deceiving one another shouldn’t surprise us. Researchers speculate that lying as a behavior arose not long after the emergence of language. The ability to manipulate others without using physical force likely conferred an advantage in the competition for resources and mates, akin to the evolution of deceptive strategies in the animal kingdom, such as camouflage.

Check out this fascinating National Geographic article here.

Image: Catch Me If You Can, movie poster, 2002.

 

New Songs About Lies, Including Music From Linkin Park, Green Day and The Troggs

New Songs About Lies, Including Music From Linkin Park, Green Day and The Troggs

posted in: News | 0

The musical lies and liars continue to pile up. I just added half-a-dozen new songs — each with a cool and appropriately deceitful music video — to our definitive audio-visual playlist all about lies, lying and liars. There’s certainly lots of falsehood and (self-)deception happening in this bunch.

Sadly, one of my favorites, Lies Greed Misery by Linkin Park, marks the death of the band’s extraordinarily talented lead vocalist Chester Bennington. RIP, Chester.

This week’s other additions to the Post*factua!ly playlist include: Lies by Thompson Twins; Foolin’ Yourself by Styx; Liars by Persephone’s Bees; You Lied by Green Day; and You’re Lying by The Troggs.

These new songs further my plan to catalog, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

New Songs About Lies, Including the 1965 Hit, Lies, by The Knickerbockers

New Songs About Lies, Including the 1965 Hit, Lies, by The Knickerbockers

posted in: News | 0

So many lyrical lies, so little time. I just added a new handful of songs — each with a cool and appropriately deceitful music video — to our definitive audio-visual playlist all about lies, lying and liars. There’s certainly lots of falsehood and deceit happening in this bunch.

This week’s additions to the Post*factua!ly playlist include: We’re All Liars by Sent By Ravens; I’m Looking Through You by The Beatles; Don’t Lie To Me by Juliana Hatfield; Lies by The Knickerbockers; and, Tell Me a Lie by Sami Jo.

These new songs further my plan to catalog, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

New Songs About Lies, Including David Bowie’s Telling Lies

New Songs About Lies, Including David Bowie’s Telling Lies

posted in: News | 0

I just added a bunch of great new songs — each with a cool and appropriately deceitful music video — to our definitive audio-visual playlist all about lies, lying and liars. There’s certainly lots of lying and story-telling going on in this collection.

This week’s new songs on the Post*factua!ly playlist include: Liar by Nine Inch Nails; Telling Lies by Sick Puppies; Tellin’ Stories by Tracy Chapman; Telling Lies by David Bowie; and, Dance Little Liar by Arctic Monkey.

These new songs further my plan to catalog, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

New Songs About Lies, Including: Liar Liar GE2017 by Captain SKA

New Songs About Lies, Including: Liar Liar GE2017 by Captain SKA

posted in: News | 0

I just added a bunch of great new songs — each with a cool music vid — to our definitive audio-visual playlist all about lies, lying and liars.

This week’s new songs on the Post*factua!ly playlist include: Liar Liar GE2017 by Captain SKA; A Liar and a Thief by Howard Shore; Said I Loved You … But I Lied by Michael Bolton; Telling Lies by Chic; and, Liar by Three Dog Night.

This week’s notable song is Liar Liar GE2017 by Captain SKA. It takes a verbal stab at Theresa May the UK Prime Minister and her many flip-flops and deceits during the 2017 General election cycle — hence “GE2017” in the song’s title. BBC Radio has refused to air the song.

These new songs further my plan to catalog, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet, though Liar Liar Ge2017 comes close. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

New Books About Lies, All About Post-Truth

New Books About Lies, All About Post-Truth

posted in: News | 0

I just added some new books to Post*factua!ly’s growing resource library about lies, alternative facts and fake news. They are:

Post-Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About It by Evan Davis; Post Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew d’Ancona; and Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered The World by James Ball.

I’m busy making the Post*factua!ly library the definitive place to visit for every title devoted to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed, with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit, misinformation and post-truth to dig through, it will take me a while. So, please bear with me as I expand the ever-growing catalog.

New Songs About Lies, Including: Billy Liar by The Decemberists

New Songs About Lies, Including: Billy Liar by The Decemberists

posted in: News | 0

I just added a bunch of great new songs — each with a cool music vid — to our definitive audio-visual playlist all about lies, lying and liars.

New songs on the Post*factua!ly playlist include: Billy Liar by The Decemberists; Fake Friends by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts; You Never Lied by Morgan James; Liar by The Cranberries; Liar Liar by The Castaways.

My plan is to gather, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. Though I’m sure that will be only a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

New Songs About Lies, Including: Suspicious Minds

New Songs About Lies, Including: Suspicious Minds

posted in: News | 0

I just added a bunch of great new songs — each with a cool music vid — to our definitive audio-visual playlist about lies.

That’s right. My plan is to gather, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. Though I’m sure that will be only a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

Just added to the Post*factua!ly playlist: Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley; The Night Before by The Beatles; Book Of Liars by Steely Dan; Don’t Lie To Me by The Rolling Stones; Little White Lies by Deaf Havana.

New Songs About Lies, Including: I Can See For Miles

New Songs About Lies, Including: I Can See For Miles

posted in: News | 0

I just added a bunch of great new songs — each with a cool music vid — to our definitive audio-visual playlist about lies.

That’s right. My plan is to gather, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” or “alternative facts” yet. Though I’m sure that will be only a matter of time — please let me know if you hear one.

Just added to the Post*factua!ly playlist: Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots; The Great Pretender by The Platters; I Can See For Miles by The Who; Tell Me No More Lies by Adam Zadok; You lied by Anita Ward.

 

Call to Artists: Collecting Lies on a Postcard

Call to Artists: Collecting Lies on a Postcard

posted in: News | 0

We collect lies. Please send us yours. We invite you to share a personal lie on a postcard, for our post-truth collective art project about deceit.

Your lie can be of any kind as long as it’s true. Just keep it simple and be creative — we showcase many online and in our upcoming Post*factua!ly art of the lie book.

Follow these 6 simple steps:

1. Keep it short, make it legible, and let your inner artist shine.

2. Find a cool post card (or make one) — use more than one if needed.

3. Fill it our anonymously, but truthfully — optionally, tell us where the lie happened.

4. Add a stamp. It’s 34c for a 6×4 postcard within the US. Check with your post office for international rates.

5. Mail it to us at: Post*factua!ly: 1905 15th Street, Ste 1002, Boulder, CO.

6. You’re done. Sit back and follow your art project online.

We prefer you send a real old timey postcard but will accept an online submission as well. More details on how it works.

24 Movies About Lies: Our Starter Collection

24 Movies About Lies: Our Starter Collection

posted in: News | 0

Break out the popcorn and make sure your subscription to Netflix is up to date. I’ve started Post*factua!ly’s unique catalog of movies about lies, deception and alternative facts. I currently have around two dozen movie trailers in our database, but I plan to grow it into the definitive source. Please hang in there. Just like our growing collections of books and songs about lies, lying and liars this will take some time — there’s just sooooo much material!

My initial movie library includes both documentaries about lies and liars and fictional stories about lies (?). Some choice titles so far: Big Fat Liar (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Double Indemnity (1944), F for Fake (1974), Gaslight (1944), Liar Liar (1997), Some Like it Hot (1959), and The Invention of Lying (2009). And, to confuse you further, some of the fictional movies were based on true stories.

 

30 Songs About Lies: Our Starter Collection

30 Songs About Lies: Our Starter Collection

posted in: News | 0

I just added 30-plus songs — each with a great music video — to kick start our definitive audio-visual collection about lies.

That’s right. My plan is to gather, for the first time, in once place every song or piece of music dedicated to lies, lying and liars. As you might have guessed with such a rich and deep mine of human deceit to dig through it will take me a while. So, please bear with me and enjoy the musical misinformation in the meantime. No songs about “fake news” yet.

My initial songbook includes: Ain’t That Peculiar by Marvin Gaye; Careless Whisper by George Michael; Don’t Lie by The Black Eyed Peas; Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes; Human by The Human League; Lies by Marina and the Diamonds; Love the Way You Lie by Eminem; Lyin’ Eyes by The Eagles; Rumour Has It by Adele; and, You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette.

New Books About Lies: The Liar in Your Life | The Post-Truth Era

New Books About Lies: The Liar in Your Life | The Post-Truth Era

posted in: News | 0

I just added a couple of new books to Post*factua!ly's growing resource library about lies, alternative facts, fake news and misquotes. They are: The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships by Robert Feldman, and The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life by Ralph Keyes.

Professor of psychology Robert Feldman is one of the leading authorities on deception. In his 2010 book The Liar in Your Life he reviews a broad body of knowledge to deliver some timely analysis and insight into why and how we lie. Feldman looks at all manner of common, personal deceit, including: "marital infidelity, little white lies, career-driven resumé lies, and how we teach children to lie." He also looks at the lies we tell ourselves.

This is a must read for serious scholars of deceit and for anyone whose life has been influenced by lies.

Ralph Keyes is credited with having invented the term "post-truth". He published his book, The Post-Truth Era, on cultural dishonesty in 2004. However, it remains highly relevant today. Indeed Keyes was remarkably ahead of his time.

As the summary on Amazon remarks, "Dishonesty inspires more euphemisms than copulation or defecation. This helps desensitize us to its implications. In the post-truth era we don't just have truth and lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall just short of a lie."

Fake News and the Big Lie

Fake News and the Big Lie

posted in: Fib News | 0

On February 21, 2017, James McDaniel launched a news website. A couple of weeks later, after careful promotion in social media, his news service was getting over 1 million page views. This is the kind of result that established news organizations covet and spend millions of dollars nurturing. So, you’d think that a larger media company would have gobbled up McDaniel’s news site — UndergroundNewsReport — and rewarded him with a title of senior vice president. Well, not so fast.

You see, McDaniel’s site was all about fake news. He created the site and all the stories as a joke — to see how gullible and naive Internet audiences could be. And, by this measure it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. It seems that the wilder the story, the more incredible the “news”, the faster it spread, and the bigger the audience.

This goes some way to confirming the theory of the “big lie” — a propaganda technique used by the Nazi regime during WWII. Adolf Hitler coined the term big lie in his 1925 autobiography. He described the big lie as being so vast and complex that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” That is, make the fake news so ridiculous, so brazenly incredible that it has be believed, especially by those whose worldview appears to be confirmed in the process.

A month in to the joke would-be media mogul and jokester James McDaniel closed his “news” service down. His fake story about Whoopi Goldberg condemning Carryn Owens, the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in January’s Yemen raid, convinced him to stop — the story and reaction to it got quickly out of hand.

His caution to the naive and gullible among us is telling: “I definitely don’t share anything that I don’t consider to be from a reliable source… and anytime I see something interesting from an alternative media outlet, I do a quick bit of research to see how reliable the story is.

Here are some choice snippets from Punditfact’s interview with McDaniel. Punditfact is a fact checking organization.

“I was surprised by how gullible the people in the Trump groups were, but as I continued to write ridiculous things they just kept getting shared and I kept drawing more viewers,” McDaniel told PolitiFact. “I saw how many fake ridiculous stories were making rounds in these groups and just wanted to see how ridiculous they could get.”

McDaniel even tried to warn viewers by putting a disclaimer on the bottom of his web pages saying his posts “are fiction, and presumably fake news.” While a handful of people took the time to email him to ask if stories were real or send hate mail, most of the comments on his links blindly accepted what he wrote as the truth.

For example, many readers of the story about Clinton’s lost email appear to believe WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was releasing information tying the former Democratic presidential nominee to Pizzagate. That’s the conspiracy theory that claims Democrats are secretly running a pedophile ring out of a D.C.-area pizza shop.

“It’s over for them but PIZZAGATE goes VERY deep it WILL Rock the world I also believe killary has kuro (sic) disease from eating body parts the symptoms are there she is very close to destination of hell where she belongs,” a commenter listed as “Bryon” wrote.

“Trump is being set up for impeachment and Pence wants his place,” a reader named “Di” commented. “If Obama, Clintons, Soros re not arrested now and their funds frozen there’s going to be a revolution in May.”

McDaniel said he would sometimes peg his posts to real news events, but more often, he just made them up wholesale. He’d find photos on the Internet and generally rip off an article without even rereading it. In all, he speculated, he worked on the site about two hours per day.

“I think that almost every story I did, or at least the successful ones, relayed off of things that Trump supporters already believed. Obama is a Muslim terrorist. Hillary (Clinton) is a demonic child trafficker,” McDaniel said. “These are things much more widely believed among Trump supporters than I had previously thought.”

Image: Composite screenshot of UndergroundNewsReport website. Credit: UndergroundNewsReport.

This Week’s New Books in the Fib Library

This Week’s New Books in the Fib Library

posted in: News | 0

I just added a couple of new books to Post*factua!ly's growing resource library about lies, alternative facts, fake news and misquotes. They are: Lying by Sam Harris, and On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 by Adrienne Rich.

Lying

Author and neuroscientist Sam Harris argues in his book Lying that our lives and, indeed society in general, would be much simpler and better if we replaced telling lies with telling the truth. While Harris only focuses on "white" lies -- those well-intentioned lies we tell to spare others from pain -- his analysis and prognosis is insightful. Now, time for him to focus on the other 70+ types of lie.

On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978

Adrienne Rich is one of America’s foremost poets, feminist theorists and progressive activists. In this collection of prose she reflects on issues that have shaped her work and life, including motherhood, racism, history and language. Importantly, she muses on our fluid relationship with the truth and the pathology of lying. This is a must read.

Fake Businesses on Google

Fake Businesses on Google

posted in: Fib News | 0

You have to give credit to scammers, fraudsters and pathological liars. When money is at stake they are nothing if not creative. For example, did you know that thousands of new, fraudulent business listings show up on Google search and Google Maps each month?

The image shows a Fake Company — at the bottom of the Grand Canyon — that I recently added to Google Maps. So, while mine is fake, caveat emptor, especially if you’re searching for a local locksmith, electrician or plumber.

According to Timothy Revell over at New Scientist:

Local businesses on Google Maps aren’t always as local as they seem. Tens of thousands of bogus listings are added to Google Maps every month, directing browsing traffic towards fraudulent schemes, finds a team of researchers at Google and the University of San Diego, California.

As an example, a fraudster might list a locksmiths at a location on Google Maps when they don’t actually have premises there. When a potential customer calls the phone number listed, they are put through to a central call centre that hires unaccredited contractors to do jobs all over. Often the customer ends up being coerced into paying more than the original quoted price.

To analyse the scope of this abuse, the group looked at over 100,000 listings that the Google Maps team had identified as abusive between June 2014 and September 2015. The fraudulent listings most often belonged to services like locksmiths, plumbers and electricians.

Image: Google Maps screenshot.

CWA at Boulder

CWA at Boulder

posted in: News | 0

I’m attending the 69th annual Conference on World Affairs (CWA) in Boulder, CO during week of April 10, 2017. I can’t wait for Monday’s panel on “The Evolution of Facts, Alternative Facts, and Doublespeak”. The free, week-long festival of ideas and discussion is crammed full of fascinating discussions ranging from food, expeditions to Mars, social justice and biodiversity, to the power grid, international development, opioid use, student debt, and fear, and 101 other engaging topics. Of course, the panel discussion nearest and dearest to my heart is all about alternative facts and lies. Check out the full schedule.

Added 3 New Books to the Fib Library: False Quotes, Black Lies and White Lies

Added 3 New Books to the Fib Library: False Quotes, Black Lies and White Lies

posted in: News | 0

I just added 3 new books to Post*factua!ly’s growing resource library about lies, alternative facts, fake news and misquotes. They are: Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations; Black Lies Matter: Why Lies Matter to the Race Grievance Industry; and White Lies Matter: Race, Crime and the Politics of Fear.

First, Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations by author and quote investigator Garson O’Toole aims to set the record straight on many commonly used quotes. Many of the quotes we voice or hear are, in fact, wrong or wrongly attributed. And, author and quote investigator Garson O’Toole lays out his research findings in a first-ever encyclopedia of corrective, historical revisionism. For instance, Albert Einstein is often credited with having said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. But there is no evidence. Amazon’s editorial describes Garson O’Toole as “the Internet’s foremost investigator into the dubious origins of our most repeated quotations, aphorisms, and everyday sayings”. O’Toole has researched the origins of familiar sayings for years at www.quoteinvestigator.com. His new book Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations collects and corrects many quotes, misquotes and misattribution from public figures including Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln and Cicero.

Second, a very blunt and contrarian assessment of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, race relations and business opportunism by author Taleeb Starkes (@TaleebStarkes) in his new book Black Lies Matter: Why Lies Matter to the Race Grievance Industry. Not surprisingly, Starkes’ book gains both stellar reviews for delving into facts about the epidemic of black violence and harsh criticism for being an unbalanced, racist diatribe. That said, Starkes, who is a black American, is credited for opening a much needed dialog on the “black-based industry” that seems to be benefiting from “nurturing comfortable lies while burying uncomfortable truths.”

Third, Tim Wise (@timjacobwise‏) prominent educator and antiracist activist published a new book, White Lies Matter: Race, Crime and the Politics of Fear. It offers a clear and compelling assessment of the false narratives, perpetuated by our political system, the national media and business interests, which tend to reinforce systemic inequality and racial oppression in the United States.

It’s purely coincidental that one book is “Black Lies Matter…” and another is “White Lies Matter…”. What is clear, however, is that we are swimming in an ocean of lies of all colors.

Image: Bookcover, Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. Credit: Garson O’Toole.

Combating Fake News

Combating Fake News

posted in: Fib News | 0

Interesting to read that billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is spending $100 million to combat fake news. Apparently, Omidyar’s fund aims to tackle the “global trust deficit” by allocating money to projects around the world.

I suspect it’ll take a lot more than hundreds of millions of dollars to save democracy and facts from a monster that seems to be devouring the world at the moment.

From the Telegraph:

The funds will be dispersed over the next three years through the Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm which he and his wife founded in 2004 and which has committed more than $1 billion to good causes.

The first recipients include the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the group behind last year’s release of the Panama Papers, which will receive $4.5 million.

Read more here.

Image: Pierre Omidyar, 2007. Courtesy: Wikipedia.

The Benefits of Self-Deception

The Benefits of Self-Deception

posted in: Fib News | 0

Psychologists have long studied the causes and characteristics of deception. In recent times they have had a huge pool of talented liars from which to draw — bankers, mortgage lenders, Enron executives, borrowers, and of course politicians. Now, researchers have begun to took at the art of self-deception, with some interesting results. Self-deception may be a useful tool in influencing others.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Lying to yourself—or self-deception, as psychologists call it—can actually have benefits. And nearly everybody does it, based on a growing body of research using new experimental techniques.

Self-deception isn’t just lying or faking, but is deeper and more complicated, says Del Paulhus, psychology professor at University of British Columbia and author of a widely used scale to measure self-deceptive tendencies. It involves strong psychological forces that keep us from acknowledging a threatening truth about ourselves, he says.

Believing we are more talented or intelligent than we really are can help us influence and win over others, says Robert Trivers, an anthropology professor at Rutgers University and author of “The Folly of Fools,” a 2011 book on the subject. An executive who talks himself into believing he is a great public speaker may not only feel better as he performs, but increase “how much he fools people, by having a confident style that persuades them that he’s good,” he says.

Researchers haven’t studied large population samples to compare rates of self-deception or compared men and women, but they know based on smaller studies that it is very common. And scientists in many different disciplines are drawn to studying it, says Michael I. Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. “It’s also one of the most puzzling things that humans do.”

Researchers disagree over what exactly happens in the brain during self-deception. Social psychologists say people deceive themselves in an unconscious effort to boost self-esteem or feel better. Evolutionary psychologists, who say different parts of the brain can harbor conflicting beliefs at the same time, say self-deception is a way of fooling others to our own advantage.

Read the entire article after the jump.

mage: Truth or Consequences. Courtesy of CBS 1950-51 / Wikia.