Saturday, April 15, 2017

How to Spot a Fake Opinion. Louis Shalako.

Eugene Delacroix.
Louis Shalako

How to spot a fake opinion.

There is such a thing as a fake opinion. It’s very useful in the political arena.

What it does, is to generate a little heat, ladies and gentlemen. It’s nothing more than propaganda, and it is intended to work on the minds of the government, of the media, and the voters.

A fake opinion, when an ordinary person gives it, is nothing more than an expression of disapproval. It doesn’t have to be true to be spoken with a great deal of sincerity. And as often as not, it’s the farthest thing from the truth.


There’s a lot of talk lately about fake news and how to spot it. The problem is nothing new as anyone who has ever glanced at the headlines on the tabloids displayed by the grocery checkout knows very well.

Very few people will seriously believe that a celebrity gave birth to a Sasquatch or an alien baby. Why anyone actually buys them things is a very good question. Why anyone would want to write shit like that is easier to answer. They sell copies of the newspaper or magazine. 

They sell to the least common denominator in society. That would be any man with a penny, back when it all first started. They sold so well the model has been adapted to the internet and monetized in new ways. That’s the big difference.

The fact is that people enjoy crazy stories. Yet there was never any doubt that the vast majority of the people could distinguish between what is real and what is fake.

Now to the present day. On Facebook one day, the algorithms presented me with a news story on a page set up for that purpose. People click like on that page, they will get updates on all kinds of news stories, mostly Canadian. It’s a Canadian news page of sorts.

You’re not friends, okay, you’re a subscriber now.

The story was about Ontarians being ‘up in arms’ about ‘skyrocketing’ hydro costs. When I hear that, I take a quick look out the window—nope, no one up in arms out there.

That is for sure…

In Canada, ‘hydro’ means electricity. At one time hydro-electricity was the major source of supply. It has since dropped to about thirty percent of total production. This province has, in fact, diversified the means of production and upgraded deteriorating transmission infrastructure.

That is a fact—a real fact.

There is controversy—in that sense it is a news story. They didn’t interview anybody.

There was no expert analysis, although there might have been a link or two to outside sources.

They were quoting some statistics, which, arguably were true. They were calling the government’s policy of supporting alternative energy production a mistake. They were calling it a failure, a disgrace and they always managed to insert the word ‘liberal’ in there.

It’s when I got to the comments that the picture became a little clearer. There must have been thirty, forty, fifty comments. It wasn’t a discussion. It was a lynch mob—whipped up to a frenzy, on the face of it.

People were saying that the Premier should be ‘hanged’, people were calling her a ‘lesbo-bitch’ and there was nothing in there that was specific to the government’s policy. The most important thing to remember in that article and that comments-section was that the Premier was the worst person in the world.

The one thing you will never find in such an article is any specific suggestions as to what the government or even the next government should do about it. That’s because the commenters, surely, had no knowledge or expertise in the field of power generation and policy. I say that because otherwise, surely they would have mentioned it. I can assure you they weren’t shy although a lot of handles were clearly not their real name. There was never, ever, any mention of personal conservation—turning off the lights, turning off even one of the average five televisions in the typical middle-class family home.

No, these people were entitled to cheap electricity, even though we all know the world is changing and the old ways are no longer sustainable.

Their comments represent resistance to change—that much is valid information.

As a reader, interested in the subject, it would have been nice to see less focus on the Premier and every mistake she’s ever made, and a bit more on what someone thought should be done about it.

Why not take a minute and tell us what you’re arguing for—and how best that might be achieved.

The province, once the controversy began over rising electricity costs, promptly dropped the sales tax, to the tune of eight percent. The government’s soon-to-be-revealed plan to further reduce costs will reputedly cut bills even further, to a grand total of 17 %. I can assure you that the government does listen—fuck, they even listen to me sometimes, which can be both humbling and a bit frightening at the same time. I mean really—when you think about it.

But then, I don’t hate their guts, do I?


The tone of the comments section, certainly, shows that even if bills were cut in half, it will never be good enough. You could reduce electricity bills to zero and their tone wouldn’t change much. This is the key to understanding fake opinions.

Nothing is ever good enough—short of throwing out the government of the day, and replacing it with, presumably, some of you people.

If you had anything important to contribute to the discussion, well, uh, perhaps that would have been a good time to bring it up.

For example, someone (somewhere else) mentioned that people in rural Ontario might have appreciated the opportunity to form co-operatives, in order to band together and create their own power-generation companies. They would have been able to take advantage of the exact same (and rather lucrative by many credible accounts) power-generation contracts that the government has signed with other firms. My impression is that the suggestion actually has some merit—but there’s no guarantee that anyone in rural Ontario would have taken it up and done anything with it. It could very well be just a red herring—just another person criticizing a policy which is unpopular in their particular neck of the woods. There was also no word on how this might reduce costs to the consumer. Hey—it could also be a very sincere suggestion.

So, if your party leader fails to win the next election, how are you guys going to feel about it?

Oh, I get it: drag them out of the Legislative Assembly, hang them from the nearest lamp-post and set the body on fire? Cut ‘em down and piss all over them while you make their kids watch…???



No, of course not.

You would never say that about one of your own, now, would you?


Louis has some books and stories on iTunes. Even if you hate his guts, you could grab a free book and then write some kind of shit, troll review.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on the blog posts, art or editing.