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Language, Logic, and Action Pt.3: The Subtle Art of Lawyerizing

[Continued from Pts. 1 & 2

Under the cover of fighting “fake news,” Facebook is currently attempting to mute views on the COVID-19 “crisis” that are not in lockstep with the popular narrative. Many people understand that the “independent” “fact checkers” are anything but independent,1 and do not actually refute the claims made by many of the posts they mark as containing “false” information. But what isn’t usually discussed, as far as I can tell at least, is their justification for their judgments. 

Here is what usually happens. An article claims that some person or organization has said something about COVID-19, or any of its many tentacles. The article’s claim takes the following form – 

Bill Gates says x about COVID-19 treatments.

The article is labeled as “false” because it asserts that Bill Gates has said x, when a perusal of Gates’ words does not record him as having explicitly stating x. Rather than treating the assertion “Bill Gates says x about COVID-19 treatments” as a summary of some statement or series of statements that Bill Gates has made about COVID-19 treatments, the fact checkers treat it as if it were reporting an explicit statement made by Gates. 

This is not only deceptive, but fallacious. What is attacked is a straw man of what is actually being claimed by the article under consideration, and it hinges on the fact checkers’ misinterpretation of the phrase “Bill Gates says.” Under one interpretation, the phrase can mean that Bill Gates has made the assertion in question verbatim. Under another interpretation, however, the phrase can mean that Bill Gates has made an assertion or set of assertions that is/are logically equivalent to the assertion reported by the article. One would only need to read the article in question to determine how to properly interpret the phrase. 

Now if the article in question was read by the fact checkers, then their interpretation is either due to their ignorance of basic English or, what is more likely the case, it is due to their desire to silence dissenting voices on the matter of COVID-19. In either case, however, the fact checkers should not be trusted because they are either completely incompetent or completely dishonest. 

Sadly, our contemporary culture, still somewhat under spell of postmodern philosophy, gives the fact checkers’ bad reasoning a pass. If a person has not explicitly stated x, many believe, then they have not stated x implicitly either. For many today, if we assert that Gates, for instance, made an assertion x about COVID-19 when he has not used those exact words, then we are guilty of the sin of bearing false witness about Gates. However, this is an irrational and anti-Christian sentiment, as we can clearly see upon reflecting on the following example taken from Mark 7:14-19 – 

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Note the parenthetical comment made by Mark: Thus, he declared all foods clean. Jesus did not utter the assertion “I declare foods clean!” but, instead, necessarily implies that all foods are clean by his declaration that “whatever goes into a person cannot defile him.” This is logically equivalent to Christ declaring that all foods are clean, so Mark, borne along by the Holy Spirit, infers that “all foods are clean” and attributes that inference to Christ, calling it a declaration. 

If Christ is himself examined according to the implications of his explicit assertions, then on what basis do so many today exempt themselves and others from such an examination? In most cases, it is because they are either impetuous and don’t want to be held accountable for their rashly uttered words, or they are concealing immorality of one kind or another and do not want others to be aware of it. And this is the case with the Facebook “fact checkers” who will flag an article as false because it identifies an inferred proposition as having been uttered by a particular person, e.g. Bill Gates. The concern with these fact checkers, in other words, is not the truth, but the promotion of a particular narrative, detractors of which they do not tolerate in the least.2

[Continued in Part 4] 


1 See Weaver, Corrine. “All 9 Facebook Fact-Checkers Ignore Media’s Promotion of Chinese Propaganda,” News Busters, https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/techwatch/corinne-weaver/2020/04/16/all-9-facebook-fact-checkers-ignore-medias-promotion, April 16, 2020. 

2 See “Facebook Content Moderator: ‘If Someone is Wearing a MAGA Hat, I Am Going to Delete Them for Terrorism’,” Project Veritas, June 23, 2020. https://www.projectveritas.com/news/facebook-content-moderator-if-someone-is-wearing-a-maga-hat-i-am-going-to/.
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