Obviously this means we'd have to maintain a list of such sites. Yes, I'm aware of what's called the genetic fallacy, but things have changed since rhetoric was invented. We now must deal with dedicated professional creators of lies, and treating their spew as though it were reasonable takes us more time than it does to create a lie.

I claim that it is reasonable to filter by source once we can categorically identify the source as unreliable.

Edit: "no notable claim" is used in several cases, including "we can't tell what you're asking", and "this isn't a question". The new close flag "Source is unreliable" (however it's spelled) is much more emphatic.

| |
  • 4
    Is it really distinct from "no notable claim" I personally don't think it is. – Jamiec Jan 13 '17 at 14:23
  • @Jamiec please see edit. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 14:30
  • You do have freeform "other...." off-topic reason too. – Jamiec Jan 13 '17 at 14:32
  • 1
    yes, but the known close tags end up on the "closed" notification that's posted. I think we should unambiguously and emphatically pushing back against the tide of lies. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 14:47
  • ...so does the freeform text – Jamiec Jan 13 '17 at 14:50
  • 2
    By "fake news" do you mean the Onion, Breitbart, Daily Mail, or something else? Unless we're talking about clear-cut satire like the Onion, I don't see how we can reliably make the determination that something is fake news. – called2voyage Jan 13 '17 at 15:17
  • 2
    @called2voyage Yes, the Onion is obvious. The Daily Mail is unreliable at best, only marginally better than breitbart. And sites like postonfb and TheRightists, etc are professional creators of deceit intended to provoke outrage. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 15:39
  • @CPerkins So I still don't understand...would you close anything from any of them as "from fake news site"? If not consistently but on a case-by-case basis, how would you prevent the close reason from being completely subjective and open to bias? – called2voyage Jan 13 '17 at 15:44
  • @called2voyage yes, immediately and consistently. As though they'd said "one of my friends said" as their claim source. But with a tag labeling it clearly as fake news. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 15:52
  • 2
    @CPerkins Then I have to say I firmly disagree with you. – called2voyage Jan 13 '17 at 16:18
  • @called2voyage fair enough. I'm quite certain in my knowledge that professionally generated fake news is a direct threat to the health and safety of the republic, but I didn't have any illusions that everyone would immediately agree. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 17:03
  • 2
    I agree that professionally generated fake news is a threat. But I don't think that the proper way to handle that is censorship but allowing such questions on Skeptics is a perfect opportunity to debunk that fake news. – called2voyage Jan 13 '17 at 17:27
  • 3
    @called2voyage I disagree that anything we can do on this site can be called "censorship". We're not a government body. We'd just be refusing to propagate lies. Allowinq questions sourced from lie factories on Skeptics propagates the lies, even if we include a debunking. This is a world where people often don't read beyond the headline. Plus one of the reasons bad information drives out good is that it takes much longer to write up a good, thorough debunking than it does to spin a lie. – user34418 Jan 13 '17 at 17:38

First, you should clarify what you mean by "Fake News" sites.

The "original" definition did not include The Onion, and certainly did not include CNN, however, people have recently co-opted the term to indicate any news article they believe (or wish) contained falsehoods.

Generally, we avoid dealing with jokes, as they aren't notable claims. If someone wants to know if a grasshopper really walked into a bar and ordered a drink, we'll quickly shut it down as not notable.

On the other hand, if a joke or piece of fiction is widely misinterpreted as true, we have a role in explaining it to people with poor irony sensors.

The same applies to Fake News sites (by the original definition). It doesn't matter that the original source is ridiculously transparent. If many people believe it, it is worth us lifting a finger to prove it wrong.

In any case, dismissing a claim because of its source is an ad hominem fallacy. Just because they were wrong in the past doesn't mean this claim is wrong. Even the old fake news source, Weekly World News gets it right sometimes.

| |
  • 1
    Actually, it's not. It's the "genetics" fallacy. Ad hominem is somewhat similar, but more like "Oddthinking wears ugly shoes, so we shouldn't listen to him about healthcare". And both of those were invented at a time before the creation of professional sites whose entire purpose is to promote lies: whether just to drive clicks for ad revenue or to promote propaganda is irrelevant. They lie for a living. – user34418 Jan 15 '17 at 18:10
  • I dont think CNN should be on that list but there certianly are a number of sites that pretend to be real news sites but are not. These are not sites that have opinions that slant/skew their reporting, but rather sites that make things up completely but report them as real news. At worst CNN is guilty of not doing sourcing and fact checking well. – Chad Jan 23 '17 at 22:14
  • @Chad: I think we are agreeing. The original definition would not include CNN. Some people have tried to expand the definition - quite successfully. Hence, the need for clarity. – Oddthinking Jan 23 '17 at 22:52
  • @Oddthinking What do you mean by "the original definition"? In 2013 the editor of the Onion said "I think that's one of the things that separates us from maybe other fake news outlets is most of what we do, actually, is focusing on the everyday minutiae, more so than what's happening in Washington" in the NPR story "Area Man Realizes He's Been Reading Fake News For 25 Years" npr.org/2013/08/29/216439725/… – DavePhD Jan 27 '17 at 15:04
  • @DavePhd: I linked to the definition I was referring to. – Oddthinking Jan 27 '17 at 21:01
  • @Oddthinking I understand that you linked to the Wikipedia page, but the page is only 2 months old, and cites to a 7 December 2016 NYT definition and a 13 December 2016 PolitiFact definition, and I don't understand which of these definitions you mean, or how such a recent definition could be considered original. It seems that the original meaning was stuff like the Onion. – DavePhD Jan 27 '17 at 22:16
  • @DavePhD: I am sure linguists have a term for when a word or phrase appears first in a corpus, but doesn't get widely accepted as a common phrasee, but I don't know what it is. I don't think the Onion's 2013 usage is what became suddenly popular in 2016. I put 'original' in quotes to gloss over that linguistics is messy. – Oddthinking Jan 28 '17 at 20:57

No matter what the list it's too much work to keep a fresh list. There's already a close reason that works, so this proposal doesn't fix anything.

| |
  • 2
    You could make the same argument ("already a close reason") to reject all close reasons except the one with arbitrary text. Explicit close reasons make clearer what's being said: that the source itself is so unreliable that no argument or evidence from it should ever be considered. Maybe it'll encourage people to look at their sources. – user34418 Jan 15 '17 at 18:12

You must log in to answer this question.