Free Minds & Free Markets

How The Simpsons Fights Fake News: Podcast

Journalism prof Michael Socolow has three simple rules to up your social-media literacy.

In an age of bots, trolls, and "fake news," we need to up our media-literacy game like never before, says Michael Socolow, a journalism professor at University of Maine and the author of Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Reason's Nick Gillespie, Socolow gives three easy rules that keep "smart people from spreading dumb ideas:" Don't share news that doesn't have substantiating links, be wary of stories that perfectly confirm your pre-existing biases, and (for god's sake!) always ask yourself why you're talking in the first place.

Socolow and Gillespie discuss past eras of moral panic and hysteria over new forms of media, such as the 1990s, when shows such as The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, and Mystery Science Theater 3K, were attacked as anti-social even as they provided viewers new tools to critically process information overload just as cable TV and the internet became ubiquitous.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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  • Just Say'n||

    Does anyone find it ironic that the first segment deals with the scourge of fake news and bots and the second segment deals with fake moral panics?

    Is irony dead in our era?

  • ||

    Is irony dead in our era?

    Yes. And unfortunately survived by wordplay.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    we need to up our media-literacy game like never before, says Michael Socolow

    That sounds suspiciously like work. How about, instead, i sit passively on my couch and you shovel Truth into my head-jelly, The Media.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Great, now I am craving jello. And not because the Cosby jury is about lay down a verdict.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The ultimate arbiter of veracity shall be the approval of my peers!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Why are you talking? There are three main reasons why people communicate: to share information, to build rapport, or to fight through arguments. Shitposting can be any of the three, but it's usually not the first.

  • Just Say'n||

    That's bull shit and you know it.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    My shitposts ALWAYS contain little golden nuggets of corny truth.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    And I lay it on so thick that I dish out....

    [dons sunglasses]

    ...whole tortillas of insight.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    That's what makes it funny.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    So sorry* that your utopian socialist dream of a guaranteed basic universal income just died, Gillespie! I hope you didn't go through too many boxes of tissues.

    *Not really sorry

  • Eidde||

    "Journalism prof Michael Socolow has three simple rules to up your social-media literacy."

    I've upped my social-media literacy, now up yours!

  • ||

    *Adds 'social-media literacy' to spam filter*

  • Jim Logajan||

    Rule number 4 will shock you!

  • TGoodchild||


  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Did anyone else listen to this?

    Did it seem like all of this guys criticisms nearly boiled down to, A) Kids nowadays don't know shit from shit, B) Because there is no monolithic cultural touchstones that teach us good lessons.

    At the very end he decried that there is no equivalent to All in the Family these days, which he considers to represent the height of media saviness. Or that there is no satire like Mad Magazine. It really felt like a guy who's only insight is that things were better when he was a kid.

  • ||

    Well, they just lost Hank Azaria.

    Good riddance Hank. You and your phony concerns.

    I suppose he wasn't aware all these years the show was satire.

    "I've given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened," he said. "I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it.
    "I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room… including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced."

    /face palm.

    All over one asshole?

    Sooo, again, when will Joe Mantegna chime in about Fat Tony? As a fellow 'fratello', he'd better not. Leave Fat Tony as is. Asking for more Italians in the writer's room is retarded nonsense and is a sure bet to make the show boring.

  • ||

    I just thought about something. Re Cletus.Would he be against rednecks in the room too?

    Oh don't be silly Rufus!

  • TGoodchild||

    He was a zombie?


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