Leaving room for ambiquity

fake-news-invasionThe more I think about it, the more I’m concerned that the hysteria around ‘fake news’ is pushing us further into the rather limited view that truths are only truths when they can be absolutely verified in propositional discourse.  On the one hand, we know that our world is replete with uncertainty and complexity, interpreted by diverse people seeing things uniquely and thus differently. On the other, we believe that unambiguous and uncontested versions of news is possible.

NB: I’m not referring to intentional spin or the deliberate dissemination of misinformation.

From Chris Blantern:

Yes – I think there’s something in what you say Patrick. There’s a huge difference between accounts that are intended to mislead and what we might call contextual, political and literal variation. We have always lived with accounts that might be said to be ‘true’ but that privilege different aspects, noticings, interests, values, potential benefits, gains & losses – depending on the reporters stake in the process. It is, after all, why those interested in social justice and a relational or Pragmatic orientation go to some lengths to elicit those accounts of events that get marginalised, suppressed, elided or forgotten. So, yes, those already turbulent waters have been muddied by the the furore around Trump and the binary assertion that there can only be one version of ‘truth’ and any account which is deemed different must be false. ‘Fake news’ in this contemporary chapter has come to mean ‘anything I don’t agree with’! Having said that there are [at least] 2 linguistic conditions which might help us to mark off ‘fake’ from ‘different’.

1st) – there is the notion of ‘inter-objectivity’ – that is a culturally shared expectation of what the use of certain linguistic phrases [non-human actants] brings about. When I’m internet shopping for a mobile phone case and I click ‘2’ in the quantity box – action is predicated on a shared assumption of what will happen (i.e. what ‘2’ means).

2nd) – there is a reading to be made of what the ‘other’ is trying to achieve with his or her different account and whether aspects of that account are mutually exclusive (not just different) with those culturally shared elements as in 1). That is, the implicative force of my account is not to supplement yours – but to render it non-legitimate. For me ‘fake’ needs to obtain both conditions.

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